Michigan restaurants will officially be allowed to resume indoor dining Feb. 1 with a curfew and other COVID-19 safety restrictions in place.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released its next COVID-19 order Friday. The revised restrictions go into effect Feb. 1 and last three weeks, until Feb. 21.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the order will allow indoor dining at restaurants, concessions at entertainment venues such as casinos, movie theaters and stadiums, personal services requiring mask removal and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households.
“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. Now, we are confident that starting Feb. 1, restaurants can resume indoor dining with safety measures in place.”
“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.”
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. and contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.
“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.”
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. This is designed to allow for additional attendance at high school football finals being hosted this weekend.
Indoor residential and non-residential gatherings are 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.
MDHHS had been closely monitoring three metrics throughout the pandemic, and officials believe their improvement calls for relaxed restrictions.
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 during which participants have close physical contact and are not consistently masked, such as water parks.
As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so.
The voluntary “MI COVID-19 Safer Dining” program allows food service establishments to become certified by having their ventilation system inspected and submitting their inspection report to the state indicating they are optimizing airflow.
Once certified, businesses will be featured on the Michigan.gov/covidsaferdining website and receive a copy of the certification to post at their establishment to alert diners of their participation.
Funding is proposed for food service establishments to participate as part of the $10 million included in the recent supplemental budget request for restaurant supports administered by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Two webinars will be hosted on Monday, Jan. 25 to provide additional information about the Safer Dining certification program – one at noon for HVAC contractors interested in conducting inspections and one at 3 p.m. for food service establishments interested in becoming certified. More information will be available at Michigan.gov/covidsaferdining.