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Michigan indoor dining to resume Feb. 1 with restrictions

MICHIGAN – On Friday morning, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced indoor dining can resume on Feb. 1.

The order also allows for concessions at casinos, movie theaters and stadiums, personal services requiring mask removal and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households.

Under the new epidemic order released Friday, new mandates will last for three weeks after it begins, ending on Feb. 21.

According to the new Michigan epidemic order signed by Robert Gordon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, food service establishments will be able to allow consumption of food and beverages only in the designated dining area where guests are seated. Tables should be at least 6 feet apart with no more than six people seated together at a table, booth or fixed seating. The order also limits indoor dining to 25-percent of normal seating capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under the same rules, and information for contact tracing must be collected.

Indoor dining and bars are required to close between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

“I know this pandemic has hurt our restaurant owners, restaurant workers and all of their families,” Whitmer said. “I want to thank those who have made incredible sacrifices and did their part in protecting our communities from COVID-19.”

Whitmer said precautions still needed to be taken, even with some epidemic protocols lifted.

“We have to stay vigilant,” Whitmer said. “The good news is we know what it takes to be successful. We know what to do. We can do this. Wear your mask. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can spread. That’s how we end this pandemic together.”

MHHSS released the three metrics it has been monitoring that have allowed for the relaxing in epidemic orders.

“In recent days, hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in seven-week decline, with current capacity at 9.9 percent for beds with COVID-19 patients. [This metric] peaked at 19.6 percent on Tuesday, Dec. 4,” said the release from the state.

The release also said over call case rates are currently at 225 cases per million. The peak of 740 cases per million was on Nov. 14, followed by a plateau where declines held at 239 on Dec. 25. The decline has been a trend for 11 days. The percent positivity rate is currently at 6.8 percent and declining.

Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS, announced a voluntary MI COVID-19 Safer Dining program.

“[The program is for] restaurant owners that can certify that they meet certain criteria for implementing measures that prevent the spread of the virus, like making sure there is good ventilation and making sure there is good distancing between tables,” Khaldun said.

Restaurant owners who complete the program will be given signage to denote their completion of the program.

Restrictions that remain in place include for workplaces, to allow work to be done from home when it can be, night clubs, contact sports except professional sports, and water parks.

The updated Gatherings and Face Mask order may be found at Michigan.gov/coronavirus.

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