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Michiganders head up north after Gov. Whitmer loosens restrictions

HOUGHTON LAKE, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that she is partially reopening businesses and lifting medical restrictions across the entire state.

RELATED: VIDEO: Traverse City bars reopen at midnight as loosened restrictions begin

Many Michiganders are expected to head up north for Memorial Day Weekend as nearly 20 counties reopen for business Friday.

READ: Michigan Gov. Whitmer partially reopens businesses, lifts medical restrictions statewide

At Joe’s Coney Island in Houghton Lake, the up north country breakfast comes with a log cabin theme -- just steps away from the lake shore. Regular customers said they’re happy to get back to the little things in life they’ve been missing -- like going to a restaurant and have someone else do the cooking.

“It’s nice to sit down and eat in," said Bob Barke. “Much nicer. It’s not the same taking it home in styrofoam.”

“I’m just happy not to have to cook breakfast," said Vickie Hebda. "We eat out a lot up here and this is one of our favorite places.”

Joe’s regular Steve Buszek said everyone up north has a place where they know your name and has what everyone likes.

“This is Detroit Coney Island here," Buszek said. "This is the best, I’m telling you.”

Owner Joe Van De Velder said they took out half of the available 45 seats and moved tables outside to try and make up the difference. He said they are using all the state’s guidelines and are happy to be back in business after closing for six weeks.

“We were totally shut down. You can’t keep up with the food orders and payroll and utilities coming in," Van De Velder said. “You don’t sell, you throw food away. You’re not going to last long doing that.”

Memorial Day Weekend for the locals means getting down to business, but for the visitors it’s about getting that chance to forget life in the closed districts.

“Right now, I’m going to get something to eat," Buszek said. "I’m going to go fishing and I’m not going to do work.”

The weather cooperated Friday. The first day of the up north opening was 70 degrees and sunny -- with a chance of turning a profit.

MORE: Here’s how all 83 Michigan counties are divided into regions in Gov. Whitmer’s reopening plan


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