DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended COVID-19 restrictions that were set to expire Tuesday for another 12 days.
The COVID restrictions will now end December 20 and keep things including indoor dining at restaurants closed. When making the announcement today during a press conference Whitmer hinted that the restaurants are not going to all reopen at once either.
“Here we are a few weeks before Christmas, and we are already sadly above that mark. And that means our progress is fragile, and we cannot let up yet,” said Whitmer.
The governor and the state’s top health officials say the impact of gatherings and travel over the Thanksgiving holiday still haven’t hit and it’s too early to reopen as cases continue to be in the thousands and Michigan tops 100 deaths a day, two weeks before models predicted.
But the extension is a potentially lethal blow to hundreds of small businesses and restaurants which have been begging for a way to either reopen their dining spaces or help employees stay afloat.
“It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s not the fault of the restaurants. It’s not my fault, not Dr. J’s fault or director Gordon’s fault. This is how COVID-19 spreads. It’s just that simple,” said Whitmer.
In a statement today the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association fired back calling it the fault of the governor saying in part, “The restaurant industry is comprised of creative and resilient individuals, but for a growing number of them, this latest pause is the cause of their lost livelihood and well-being.” change gfx “we firmly believe there is a better approach - one followed by 45 other states - that doesn’t use blunt force closure of a single industry to resolve a shared crisis.”
The outlook though is bleak, the head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said there needs to be a lot of improvement in the next two weeks, improvement he is not optimistic we will see.
“If progress continues we will eagerly reopen venues beyond those I’ve described, we’re not ready to do that now and it’s unlikely we’ll be ready to do so in 12 days, but we will do so as soon as we can,” said MDHHS Director, Robert Gordan.
The state is really looking for three key things to lift the restrictions. Those are declining hospitalizations and cases, both of those have been trending downward which is a good sign but about 1 in 5 hospital beds is being used to treat a COVID patients right now.
The final metric is case positivity which helps track community spread. That has not been trending in the right direction and is what health officials are really worried about as we head toward more holiday celebrations.
“Michigan businesses and families cannot withstand another shutdown, and I am calling on Governor Whitmer to reverse course and allow Michiganders the freedom to work, go to school, and be with their families during this holiday season. Instead of asking for $400 million dollars in aid, Whitmer should be removing the restrictions she imposed, that are causing the need for aid in the first place,” said Michigan Republican Party Chairman, Laura Cox, regarding the partial shutdown.
The following will remain closed, per the state’s epidemic order:
- High schools (in-person learning)
- Theaters, movie theaters, stadiums, arenas
- Colleges and universities (in-person learning)
- Bowling centers, ice skating rinks, indoor water parks
- Work, when it can be done from home
- Bingo halls, casinos, arcades
- Dine-in restaurants and bars (indoor dining)
- Group fitness classes
- Personal services (salon, spa) that involve mask removal*
- Organized sports, except professional sports and certain NCAA sports (Big Ten football, for example)