Michigan aims to resume indoor dining at restaurants on Feb. 1, Gov. Whitmer says

Indoor dining banned since Nov. 18

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a Jan. 13, 2021, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the state is aiming to resume indoor dining at restaurants in February after a spike in COVID-19 cases late last year sparked a ban of more than two months.

Depending on how COVID-19 cases trend in the next two weeks, restaurants might be able to resume indoor dining with certain restrictions. Those rules would include a mask mandate, capacity rules and a curfew, Whitmer said.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is once again extending its order that put stricter COVID-19 rules into place throughout the state. The order, which was set to expire Friday (Jan. 15) is now in effect through the end of the month, but has loosened restrictions on indoor group exercise and non-contact sports.

TIMELINE: How COVID trends have actually changed during Michigan’s order

On Feb. 1, restaurants might be allowed to welcome customers back inside for the first time since Nov. 17, the day before the MDHHS “pause” went into effect.

Originally put into place for three weeks, the pause was extended twice before Wednesday -- through Dec. 20 and again until Jan. 15.

Michigan extends emergency order barring indoor dining through Jan. 31

When the Jan. 15 extension was announced on Dec. 18, officials revised the order to allow high schools and certain entertainment venues to reopen. Those venues are not allowed to serve drink or food concessions, however, because that requires people to remove their masks.

By the time restaurants might resume indoor dining Feb. 1, they would have been closed for about 10 and a half weeks.

Whitmer, along with Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and Director Robert Gordon, both of MDHHS, has maintained throughout the pause that indoor dining is among the riskiest activities in terms of spreading COVID-19.

Gordon said avoiding situations in which people from different households gather indoors without masks on is one of the fundamental guidelines the state is following to fight the spread of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the state of Michigan reported 1,994 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 100 additional deaths. Overall, the state has identified 525,612 cases of the virus and 13,501 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.