Ban on indoor dining, bars extended to Jan. 15
Citing progress made during the recent ‘pause’ it was determined that high schools can return to in person instruction while bowling alleys, theaters and other entertainment venues will be allowed to open if following masking and social distancing requirements but without concessions.
Indoor dining, bars and clubs will have a longer wait.
According to the updated order from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) restaurants, bars and nightclubs must remain closed until Jan. 15 though Governor Whitmer hinted that bars and restaurants could be allowed to reopen earlier if the number of new cases continues to decrease. The new order is effective Monday, Dec. 21 and will last until Friday, Jan. 15.
Previously, MDHHS had identified stabilization or declines in three metrics as critical for relaxing protocols. Michigan saw improvements across all three following the “pause” implemented in mid-November:
“Michiganders should be proud: we have made incredible progress over the last month. But we could easily lose that progress and endanger our hospitals again over the next two weeks,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “At Thanksgiving, most Michiganders sacrificed and avoided family get-togethers. We need to do the same thing this holiday season. Then we can re-engage more activities sooner and more safely.”
The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but they can continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery. Colleges and universities will be able to have students return to campus for the winter semester, with a voluntary commitment to wait until Jan. 18 to restart in-person courses.
Gyms remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Outdoor group fitness and outdoor non-contact sports will again be allowed, including running, downhill and cross-country skiing.
Under this new order, reopened indoor entertainment venues will not be required to collect names and contact information. With the amount of community spread that currently exists across the state and the heavy burden on contact tracing teams to keep up with these cases, it has become too challenging to meaningfully use this data for timely follow up. As case counts fall and contact tracing becomes able to keep up with the volume again, MDHHS expects to reinstate this information-gathering requirement.
As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.
“These past few weeks, Michiganders across the state stepped up and did their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, and because of our collective hard work, we are now able to begin the steps to carefully lift some of the protocols we have in place,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am encouraged by the progress we have made since early November, and will continue to monitor the data closely during and after the holidays. “