LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is reopening parts of Michigan to certain businesses later this week.
As the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) declines in the state, Whitmer will allow certain businesses in some parts of Michigan to reopen on Friday, she said.
UPDATE -- May 18, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 51,915; Death toll now at 4,915
Which businesses are included?
So far, three types of businesses have been included in the governor’s reopening plan.
Bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen starting Friday. They must limit capacity to 50% and keep groups six feet away from each other.
Servers will have to wear face coverings at all times, Whitmer said.
The AP reports retail businesses will be allowed to reopen in some capacity, though specific details will likely be revealed when Whitmer speaks at 1:30 p.m.
In addition, office jobs that can’t be done remotely can resume, Whitmer said.
Where are these businesses reopening?
The move affects two of the eight regions Whitmer outlined in her gradual reopening plan.
The first region is the Upper Peninsula.
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The other includes 17 counties in the northernmost part of the Lower Peninsula. It’s called the “Traverse City Region” and includes the following counties:
- Grand Traverse
- Presque Isle
Businesses could start reopening as soon as Friday.
Office work also will be able resume if work cannot be done remotely.
“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 COVID19,” Whitmer said in a statement.
There has been heavy opposition to Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the Republican Legislature. State legislators are suing the governor for extending her executive orders without their approval.
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Michiganders have also taken to the Capitol Building for three major protests in the past month, most recently on Thursday.
Despite the lawsuits and protests, Whitmer has continued to take a cautious approach to reopening Michigan. While the Big Three automakers reopened Monday and other services, such as landscaping and construction, have been methodically resumed, Whitmer said her priority is safety.
“I know many people in our state are feeling frustrated,” Whitmer said. “Some are scared. Some are angry. That’s understandable, but now is not a time for division for hatred, certainly not a time for violence. Now is a time for us to pull together. Now is a time for unity.”
Whitmer announced last week that gatherings of up to 10 people could possibly be allowed by May 28, when the current stay-at-home order expires.
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But during Friday’s briefing, she said Michigan isn’t yet ready to enter the fourth stage of her six-step reopening plan.
“I’ve been thinking about, ‘How can we drive home the story that is happening here, the stories that are not going to be called 5,000 lost lives?’” Whitmer said. “I want you to imagine as though you are standing on the stage of the Fox Theater in Detroit, which holds over 5,000 people. You look at that stage, and you know that nearly every empty chair represents a lost loved one, someone here in Michigan, someone with a story, someone with children or parents, someone with colleagues.
“These are people that were part of the fabric of our state. It’s so easy to look past this loss if it hasn’t hit close to home. It’s crucial for us to remember the families across Michigan who are still dealing with unbearable, unthinkable loss.”
Businesses, medical procedures partially reopened statewide
On Thursday, Whitmer announced she is partially reopening businesses and lifting medical restrictions across the entire state.
She is also allowing Michiganders to gather in groups of up to 10 people, as the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to slow across the state.
Whitmer said retail businesses can reopen, as well as auto dealerships by appointment, on Tuesday.
Retail businesses that reopen can have up to 10 customers inside at any time, Whitmer said.
Whitmer also lifted the restrictions on health care providers who had to delay some nonessential medical, dental and veterinary procedures. Those procedures can resume Friday, May 29.