COVID-19 Restrictions Relaxed After Letter from Chambers Advocating for Safe Opening of Restaurants

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced changes to the Michigan Health and Human Service Department orders on Tuesday, March 3, that relaxes restrictions on restaurants, bars, retail locations, and nursing home visitations. These changes come after a steady decline in COVID-19 cases, testing positivity rates, and hospitalizations over several months.

“As we continue our vaccine rollout and make steady progress against the virus, we are taking additional incremental steps to reengage to ensure we are protecting our families and front-line workers and saving lives,” Whitmer said in a statement.

Changes in the Order

  • Restaurants and bars may have 50% indoor dining capacity, up to 100 people. Tables must still be 6 feet apart, with a max of six people at a table. The curfew on dining has been changed from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Retail shops may increase their indoor capacity from 30% to 50%.
  • Outdoor gatherings can resume with up to 300 people.
  • Venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other entertainment purveyors may also increase indoor capacity to 50%, up to 300 people.
  • Casinos are allowed to function at 30% indoor capacity.
  • Indoor private residential gatherings now allow 15 people from three separate households. Outdoor residential gatherings are allowed to have up to 50 people.
  • Indoor gatherings involving people from different households are allowed to have up to 25 people. This change could have an impact on public events like city council meetings and small public gatherings and could let them legally be in-person.
  • Athletic stadiums and arenas that seat 10,000 people or fewer may allow up to 375 attendees. If the seating capacity is above 10,000, they can have 750 people.
  • Gyms are allowed to operate at 30% capacity, but workout machines must remain at least 6 feet apart.

The order will take effect Friday, March 5, and run through Monday, April 19.

Detroit Regional Chamber Leads Call for Relaxation of Restaurant Restrictions 

On March 1, the Detroit Chamber joined other larger chambers of commerce around the state in a letter to Gov. Whitmer calling for a graduated reopening of restaurants based on science and data. Data from the Chamber’s State of the Region report shows that small businesses have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and restrictions, with 2020 revenues dropping nearly 40%.

The letter laid out four guiding principles designed to support the response and recovery efforts.

  1. Businesses need clarity, consistency, and transparency on decisions made
  2. All industries should be allowed to open with proper safety protocols
  3. We must be precise on how we control outbreaks
  4. Continue to utilize best practices- informed by data- on ways to protect our citizens

Yesterday’s announcement from the Governor is a validation of the Chamber and our partner organizations’ advocacy efforts. “As vaccination rates increase and COVID-19 cases decrease, we are grateful the Governor was receptive to our call to relax restrictions on our small businesses, restaurants, and bars,” said Brad Williams, vice president of Government Relations at the Chamber. “These businesses are the foundation of communities around the state and we will work with the Governor, and legislative leaders to ensure they have the support they need.”

View and download the Chamber letter.


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