LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is lifting more restrictions in parts of the state, moving two regions to the fifth phase of her six-part coronavirus (COVID-19) reopening plan, starting next week.
On Friday, Whitmer announced the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City Region will move to the “Containing” phase of her plan, starting Wednesday (June 10). That means the northern part of the state will be just one phase away from the final phase, also known as “Post-pandemic.”
Phase five will reopen salons, movie theaters and gyms, as long as they follow safety protocols designed to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Indoor social gatherings and organized events of up to 50 people will be allowed in those regions. Outdoor social gatherings and organized events are also allowed if people maintain six feet of distance from one another and the gathering consists of no more than 250 people.
Outdoor performance and sporting venues will be open with a larger capacity limit of 500, which will allow for some outdoor graduation ceremonies.
On June 15, personal services including hair, massages and nails will reopen statewide. Though the remaining regions will remain in phase four, the governor said she expects the entire state will advance to phase five in the coming weeks.
“Today marks another milestone in the safe reopening of Michigan’s economy,” Whitmer said. “As we continue to slowly reopen different parts of our state, it’s critical that we listen to the experts and follow the medical science to avoid a second wave of infections. The good news is that we are headed in the right direction, and if the current trajectory continues, I anticipate we’ll be able to announce more sectors reopening in the coming weeks. We owe it to our front line workers to keep doing our part.”
“We are still on an encouraging trajectory across the state, and while there are regional differences, we are seeing continued general rates of decline in cases and deaths,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “While we must continue to monitor the data, because of these positive trends we are able to move forward, on a regional basis, with the next phases of the MI Safe Start Plan. Although the risk levels are going down, it does not mean it has gone away. Please remain vigilant, wear your mask, practice social distancing, and remain patient as we continue to fight COVID-19 together.”
Whitmer has issued an updated rule laying out new workplace safeguards for gyms, in-home services, hair salons, and entertainment venues. Following these safeguards will ensure that workers and patrons alike remain protected as the state moves to reopen.
“I’m grateful that the U.P. is moving forward today to reopen more businesses in phase 5. This hasn’t been easy balancing the safety of residents and our economy, but our numbers show the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order worked,” said Rep. Sara Cambensy. “Even after Memorial Day weekend, we didn’t see a spike in Covid-19 cases. This should give residents, businesses and travelers to our region the confidence and reassurance that we are resilient and ready to responsibly start our U.P. summer season."
The other six regions were moved to the “Improving” phase earlier in the week when Whitmer lifted the stay-at-home order. Restrictions were loosened statewide for restaurants, retail businesses and more.
Stay-at-home order lifted
For the rest of the state, restaurants can reopen to dine-in service Monday. Groups will have to remain at least six feet apart and servers must wear masks. Restaurants can fill to 50% capacity.
Outdoor crowds of up to 100 people are allowed, effective immediately, Whitmer said. Outdoor fitness classes, athletic practices, training sessions and games are allowed as long as coaches, spectators and participants not from the same household can maintain a distance of six feet from one another at all times.
Office work that can’t be done remotely is now allowed across the state, effectively immediately.
In-home services such as house cleaning are also permitted immediately, Whitmer said.
Drive-in movie theaters can open immediately, but indoor theaters cannot, Whitmer said.
Retailers can reopen to customers without an appointment on Thursday. They had previously been allowed to take customers only via appointment.
Gyms, hair salons, tattoo parlors and casinos will remain closed because they require close contact with customers, Whitmer said.
Whitmer said her goal is to shift the state to phase 5, “Containing," before July 4.
On Sunday, the state announced 513 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, as well as an additional 28 deaths. Michigan has had a total of 57,397 cases and 5,491 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
As the daily rate of new cases and deaths continues to decline and overall testing ramps up around the state, Whitmer has started reopening certain sectors of the economy.
Her decisions are based on the six-phase model she released last month, called the “MI Safe Start Plan." In short, the model outlines how the state goes from a total lockdown due to the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 to returning to normal.
The six phases are uncontrolled growth, persistent spread, flattening, improving, containing and post-pandemic.
Before Monday, only two of the state’s eight regions were in the “Improving” phase of Whitmer’s reopening plan -- the Upper Peninsula and the Traverse City Region. All eight regions are now in that phase.
Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, the Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said those two regions had checked enough of the boxes required to move onto the fourth stage.
“Both of those regions ... have sustained a low increase of cases per day," Khaldun said. "I’ve seen a steady decrease in positivity rates for tests that have been completed, and they have a low average number of deaths each day, when you compare them to the state average.”
Bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity starting May 22. Groups are required to stay six feet away from each other and servers must wear masks.
Retail businesses were also allowed to partially reopen in those regions.
Trend of slowly opening Metro Detroit
Metro Detroit -- part of the Detroit Region, which includes Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties -- was in the “Flattening” phase for the entire month of May after the MI Safe Start Plan was announced. Some businesses still reopened along the way, though.
Whitmer first loosened restrictions April 24, when she extended her stay-at-home order through May 15. She allowed some businesses linked to outdoor activities, such as golf and motorized boating, to reopen.
Landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops were allowed to resume operating, subject to social-distancing rules.
On May 1, after again extending her stay-at-home order, this time until May 28, Whitmer reopened certain types of work that are typically outdoors, including construction work and real estate.
Michigan’s economy got a much-needed boost when Whitmer announced she would reopen manufacturing, including the Big 3 automakers. Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler would be allowed to reopen at the beginning of the following week, Whitmer announced May 7.
Whitmer announced May 21 that residents were allowed to gather in groups of as many as 10 people. Michiganders were previously restricted from visiting others and coming into contact with anyone outside their household, except in essential circumstances.
Retail businesses reopened Tuesday, as well as auto dealerships, by appointment. Retail businesses that reopen can have up to 10 customers inside at any time, Whitmer said.
Whitmer also lifted restrictions on health care providers who had to delay some nonessential medical, dental and veterinary procedures. Those procedures were allowed to resume Friday. Reopened health care facilities had to adopt strict protocols to prevent spreading the virus.
Malls reopen in Metro Detroit: Can you touch surfaces? Is it safe to try on clothes?
More around Michigan
The state has seen more than just a pandemic over the last several weeks.
Thousands of residents in mid-Michigan were evacuated from their homes May 19 and 20 when the Edenville and Sanford dams failed, causing catastrophic flooding in and around Midland County.
“I feel like I’ve said this a lot over the last 10 weeks, but this is an event unlike anything we’ve seen before," Whitmer said. "We’ve got to continue to all work together to observe best practices, do our part to help one another and to wear our masks and continue to try to social distance in this moment.”
The floods, which displaced more than 10,000 people but didn’t cause any confirmed casualties, ravaged roads and neighborhoods.
This week, Michigan is one of many states to see protests related to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Detroit and Grand Rapids were among the cities that have seen large protests against police brutality. While authorities said protests were primarily peaceful, there was some violence.
The state has seen seven straight days of protesting, though most of it has been peaceful. Officials and community leaders have spoken out against outsiders coming to the state to try to turn peaceful protests into chaos.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced an 8 p.m. curfew to try to control the protests after dark.
Police used tear gas on protesters at times over the weekend. There were more reports of police making aggressive arrests and targeting clearly identified media members as tensions rose.