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MDHHS announces next COVID order, revising rules for Michigan restaurants, stadiums, gatherings

New order scheduled to be in effect Feb. 1 to Feb. 21

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a COVID-19 news conference Jan. 22, 2021. (WDIV)

Michigan officials have announced the details of their next COVID-19 order, revising rules for restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, stadiums and gatherings.

The new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will go into effect Feb. 1 and last three weeks, until Feb. 21.

READ: Here are the 8 changes to Michigan COVID restrictions coming next month under new order

Restaurants reopen for indoor dining

Most notably, Michigan restaurants will officially be allowed to resume indoor dining, with certain safety restrictions in place.

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people.

Tables must be six feet apart, with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under the same rules.

Bars and restaurants have to close by 10 p.m. They must also collect contact information from diners for contact tracing.

“Today’s announcement is possible because of our progress over the last two months,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said. “Even so, the science is clear that unmasked, indoor activities like dining and drinking are still a source of high risk around COVID-19. The safest course remains to support your favorite restaurant with carryout, delivery or outdoor dining.

“If individuals choose to eat out, there are two things they can do to make it much safer: go out only with members of their own household and choose a restaurant participating in the MI COVID-19 Safer Dining certification program.”

Entertainment venues

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the order will also allow concessions at entertainment venues such as casinos, movie theaters and stadiums.

These venues were already allowed to reopen with certain restrictions, including a ban on food and drink concessions. As of Feb. 1, those concessions will be allowed to resume.

“The pause has worked,” Whitmer said. “The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and hospitals have dramatically reduced cases and we have saved lives.”

Gatherings and personal services

When the new order goes into effect, indoor residential and non-residential gatherings will be limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with regularly.

Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones.

Personal services requiring mask removal will also be permitted.

“We are pleased to see the improvements in case rates, hospitalizations and percent positivity that have allowed us to reopen more activities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “However, we must remain vigilant, especially since we now have a new more easily transmitted variant of this virus present in our state.”

Stadiums

As of Jan. 22, stadiums can allow up to 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000 people.

Stadiums that seat fewer than 10,000 people are allowed to be at 20% capacity, up to 250 people.

The updated stadium regulations are designed to allow more people to attend high school football finals this weekend.

Metrics

MDHHS had been closely monitoring three metrics in particular throughout the pandemic, and officials believe improvements in these areas justify the revisions above.

The state’s case rate is currently at 225 cases per million after peaking at 740 cases per million in mid-November.

The statewide positivity rate is 6.8% and declining.

Currently, 9.9% of hospital beds are being used by COVID-19 patients. That number has been declining for seven weeks after peaking at 19.6% on Dec. 4.

Restrictions still in place

The MDHHS order continues to temporarily pause indoor contact sports and other venues and activities that require close physical contact and mask removal, such as water parks.

Employees who work in jobs that can’t be performed from home can continue to go to work, but employees who can work from home should to do so.


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