Gov. Whitmer clears some businesses in Northern Michigan to reopen Friday

Restaurants, bars, retail allowed to reopen with restrictions

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is allowing some businesses in the northern part of the state and the Upper Peninsula to reopen Friday.

UPDATE -- May 18, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 51,915; Death toll now at 4,915

The areas included in the executive order are region eight, which is all of the Upper Peninsula, and region six, which includes 17 counties in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.

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“The whole state is watching to make sure we get this right,” Whitmer said.

Michigan is slowly easing restrictions and regaining some sense of normalcy.

“Our big fear, of course, is that Memorial Day weekend -- we know lots of people love to go north,” Whitmer said. “But we also know that it’s going to be really important for people to do their part.”

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity.

“This is not a wholesale reengagement of indoor dining,” Whitmer said. “You can hit a local restaurant, if it’s a small group of people and you can maintain that social distancing.”

Retail shops and office work that can’t be done remotely will also reopen.

MORE: Metro Detroit’s Big Three automakers restart production after being shut down for months

Businesses must follow strict safety guidelines.

Restaurant owners can choose to open only with outdoor seating, if they choose to do so.

Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers said while Traverse City is eager to welcome back Michiganders, residents have to be cautious.

“Come enjoy all the areas that we all love along the coast, but please, be mindful that we’re a small town with limited abilities to take care of you if you should get sick,” Carruthers said.

Whitmer is also looking to Washington for economic support.

“The last thing we would want to do in the midst of a global pandemic is to cut health care, to cut public safety or to cut education,” Whitmer said.

After a stimulus bill passed the House, she’s hopeful the Senate and President Donald Trump will follow suit. Republicans say the coronavirus relief bill is dead on arrival.

“I’m also hopeful that anyone who gets to spent some time with the president on Thursday when he’s here in Michigan will ask for that same kind of support, as well,” Whitmer said.

Trump will visit a Ford manufacturing plant in Ypsilanti. He has clashed many times with Whitmer over her handling of the coronavirus in Michigan.

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