Retail businesses, bars and restaurants and offices will be allowed to reopen in Michigan's northern region and Upper Peninsula beginning Friday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced Monday.
Under the reopening plan for regions 6 and 8, which include 17 northern counties and the entirety of the Upper Peninsula, bars and restaurants will be limited to 50 percent capacity and must require workers to cover their faces, keep groups six feet apart and train workers in safety precautions.
Today, I signed an Executive Order that loosens some restrictions in MERC Regions 6 & 8 (Upper Peninsula & Traverse City areas). Starting this Friday, these regions can reopen:— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 18, 2020
▪️Restaurants/bars with limited seating
▪️Office work that cannot be done remotely. pic.twitter.com/kja6gekUeE
Small social gatherings of 10 or fewer people will also be allowed in the regions, Whitmer said.
She added that local officials would be allowed to issue their own restrictions, such as only allowing outdoor seating at restaurants.
"This is a big step, and it’s right before the holiday weekend," she said at a Monday press briefing. "I want to encourage everyone to stay smart and stay safe. Keep your wits about you. Let’s not all go rushing out and force a closure."
“The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,” Joneigh Khaldun, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’s chief deputy for health and chief medical executive, said in a statement.
“It’s important to note that these businesses must take special precautions to protect Michiganders. I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a 6-foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often. This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state,” Khaldun added.
Michigan has seen sustained protests at the state Capitol against Whitmer's stay-at-home order and business closures. In one instance, armed demonstrators entered the Capitol building. President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE has called for Michigan to reopen numerous times and earlier this month urged Whitmer to "make a deal" with protesters.
The state has seen more than 51,000 cases of coronavirus and just over 4,900 deaths as of Monday.