Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Rolls Out Partial Re-Opening Plan, Bars and Restaurants to Open in Parts of Northern Michigan
The move will affect two of the eight regions, regions six and eight identified in the governor’s gradual reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic: one covers the Upper Peninsula and another includes 17 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula, including Traverse City and Wexford County.
The partial reopening will take effect on Friday, May 22. Cities, villages, and townships can choose to take a more cautious course if they wish: the order does not abridge their authority to restrict the operations of restaurants or bars, including limiting such establishments to outdoor seating.
“This is a big step, but we must all remember to continue doing our part to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer.
“The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.
All businesses that will reopen in regions 6 and 8 must adopt the safety measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-91.
That means they must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.
“We are thankful to Governor Whitmer as today marks an important first step of reintegrating restaurants into the fabric of our daily lives,” said Justin Winslow, President and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. “Restaurants in the U.P. and northern Michigan understand that with their opportunity comes an extraordinary responsibility to operate in a manner that ensures the safety of their guests and their employees. I believe they are up to the challenge.”
“Like Gov. Whitmer, Mayors in Michigan support the well-being of all our citizens,” said Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers. “All regions of Michigan have been affected by COVID-19, and Up North, we want to support the Governor by cautiously opening up some of our economy resources. However, in doing so, we must be mindful that wearing masks and continuing to practice social distancing is a must to make this work. Stopping the spread of this virus is still key and if we can’t, then we will have to close it down again.”
Governor Whitmer says restaurants will have new seating rules and outdoor seating in preferred.
Restaurants and bars will also have to limit capacity to 50% of their normal seating, to keep groups at least six feet from one another, to require their servers to wear face coverings, and to follow rigorous disinfection protocols.
Office work also will be able resume if work cannot be done remotely.
Whitmer says that regions 6 and 8 are far below the statewide average and she believes it is safe to take this next step.
“It’s crucial that all businesses do everything in their power to protect their workers, customers, and their families. And as we approach Memorial Day weekend, I encourage everyone to be smart and be safe. My team and I will continue to work around the clock to protect the people of Michigan,” said Whitmer.