The state of Michigan is allowing indoor group exercise and non-contact sports to resume after updating its epidemic order.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Michiganders must remain masked and socially distanced while taking part in these activities.
This takes effect on Saturday, Jan. 16, and will last until Sunday, Jan. 31.
"The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and small business owners are working. While there has been a slight uptick in our percent positivity rate, our cases per million have plateaued and more hospital beds are becoming available. Today, we are confident that MDHHS can lift some of the protocols that were previously in place,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Michigan is once again standing out as a nationwide leader in fighting this virus, and we must continue working to keep it that way. One of the most important things Michiganders can do is to make a plan to get the safe and effective vaccine when it’s available to you. And as always, mask up and maintain six feet of social distancing. We will end this pandemic together.”
“We continue to make progress in our fight against this virus, and expanding vaccination to healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff, some essential frontline workers and those age 65 and older is bringing us closer to ending the pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “It is important that everyone continues to do their part by avoiding gatherings, wearing masks properly and social distancing. This remains just as important, even as the safe and effective vaccine is being administered, to protect those who are not yet able to be vaccinated.”
MDHHS said although Michigan saw improvements after the “pause” implemented in mid-November, some numbers have plateaued or begun to increase in recent days:
- Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in 13-day decline, with current capacity is at 12 percent for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6 percent on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
- Overall case rates: increasing, currently at 266 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14 and declined to a low of 239 on Friday, Dec. 25
- Positivity rate: plateauing; currently at 9.1 percent after reaching a low of 8.1 percent on Monday, Dec. 28 and increasing up to 10 percent since then.
“We are reopening cautiously because caution is working to save lives. The new order allows group exercise and non-contact sports, always with masks and social distancing, because in the winter it’s not as easy to get out and exercise and physical activity is important for physical and mental health,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “We are glad that we made it through the holidays without a big increase in numbers, but there are also worrying signs in the new numbers. We need to remain focused and continue to see declines in hospitalizations and to bring case rates and percent positivity down by doing what we know works.”
Indoor dining at bars and restaurants is still prohibited, but they can offer outdoor dining, carryout, and delivery.
MDHHS plans to reopen indoor dining with mitigating measures, capacity limits, and a curfew on Feb. 1.
However, the decision depends on data continuing to stabilize, MDHHS said.
“Bars, restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry were looking forward to reopening on Jan. 16,” MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis said. “In fact, we’ve been ready to reopen for a long time. The state’s data indicated that we weren’t a problem industry when we were unfairly shut down in November.”
Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association President and CEO Justin Winslow issued the following statement:
"The governor’s continuation of this pause without a plan—now expanding to 75 days—is without parallel in the nation in terms of its unwillingness or inability to provide leadership to a decimated industry and its workforce. There are more than 100,000 unemployed hospitality workers and thousands of small operators on the edge of bankruptcy all waiting for hope and direction, and once again it did not come. This is unacceptable and we should all demand more accountability.
Michigan’s restaurants have been closed for more days than any other state since the onset of the pandemic and Michigan stands alone as the only remaining statewide closure of dining rooms without a discernible, data-driven path to reopen and fully reintegrate in the economy. This, too, is unacceptable and we should all demand more accountability."
Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox issued the following statement:
“Governor Whitmer’s restaurant shutdown is cruel and to extend it until February 1st imposes an undue hardship on thousands of business owners and employees across our state. Michiganders are tired of the excuses, they are tired of these shutdowns, and they are tired of having their pain and suffering ignored by Governor Whitmer. We can reopen restaurants safely and we must do it now.”
Colleges and universities can have students return to campus for the winter semester and restart in-person courses as of Jan. 18.