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Michigan Republicans question vaccine-only metric for reopening

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced a plan to tie the lifting of coronavirus...
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced a plan to tie the lifting of coronavirus restrictions to the state’s vaccination rate, setting four benchmarks to return to normal.(Michigan.gov)
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 2:38 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republican legislative leaders welcome Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s metric-based approach to further relaxing coronavirus restrictions.

But they question what will happen if Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccination rate falls below targets.

Their comments Friday come a day after the governor announced four benchmarks that will trigger additional economic reopening -- when 55%, 60%, 65% and 70% of people ages 16 and up get at least one shot.

Nearly half of Michigan’s adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday morning. The state now needs at least two of every five unvaccinated residents to receive a dose.

One GOP leader suggested tying reopening to other metrics like infection rates.

The new benchmarks that Whitmer announced Thursday allow restrictions to loosen when the state reaches the following vaccination levels:

Two weeks after 55% receive at least one dose of vaccine, all offices across the state can resume in-person work for everyone.

Two weeks after 60% receive at least one dose of vaccine, capacity restrictions will be reduced:

  • Sports stadiums can allow 25% spectator capacity.
  • Conference centers, banquet halls and funeral homes can allow 25% capacity indoors.
  • Exercise facilities can allow 50% capacity indoors.
  • The 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants to close will end.

Two weeks after 65% receive at least one dose of vaccine, all indoor capacity limits will end.

  • Only social distancing will be required between people indoors.
  • Limits on residential social gatherings will be relaxed.

Two weeks after 70% receive at least one dose of vaccine, all broad mandates and restrictions for COVID-19 in Michigan will be lifted, including the face mask mandate and gathering limits.

After that, Whitmer said the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will only impose broad COVID-19 restrictions if an unanticipated circumstance arises, such as rapid spread of vaccine resistant coronavirus variants.

As of Friday morning, 49.6% of Michiganders age 16 or older have received at least one dose of vaccine while 37.2% are considered fully vaccinated.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.