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Gov. Whitmer hints at loosening more COVID-19 restrictions soon

Restaurant owners reflect on navigating pandemic
Restaurant owners reflect on navigating pandemic(DAKOTA NEWS NOW)
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 3:08 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan’s COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and gatherings may change soon.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hinted that more announcements on loosening restrictions are possible “in the coming days.” She said the state’s key COVID-19 statistics “are all improving very well” in recent days.

“It’s generally heading in the right direction. In the coming days we would be assessing and making more determinations on many fronts,” Whitmer said.

She did not announce any changes officially on Wednesday and no other press conferences have been scheduled.

Restaurants currently are limited to 25% capacity for indoor dining and must close by 10 p.m. every night. Whitmer is aware of restaurant owners’ request to increase capacity indoors to 50% based on improving COVID-19 statistics.

“I’m hopeful that eventually we get to that point,” she said. “At this juncture, we’ve been at it a couple weeks and we have to keep watching the numbers.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services imposed the 25% capacity limit beginning Feb. 1, which initially was set to expire on Feb. 21. However, the department quietly extended the capacity limit until March 29 as part of a different epidemic order allowing contact high school sports to start this month.

Whitmer said the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did not sneak the extension through. She said they followed the established “three-week cadence” of loosening restrictions and watching COVID-19 statistics for any evidence of an uptick in cases.

Household gatherings in Michigan currently are limited to 10 people from no more than two households, who are required to wear a face covering when they come within 6 feet of each other. Whitmer said the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also is studying potential changes to that restriction.

She noted that in-home gatherings were a significant source of COVID-19 spread during the peak last fall, so state health officials will make any changes slowly and carefully. Whitmer likened the changes to turning a dial slowly rather than flipping on a light switch.

“If we’re going to take a step, they will be incremental so we don’t contribute to a big spread possibly,” she said.

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