Whitmer rescinds stay-home order; restaurants, retailers can reopen

Susan J. Demas

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday lifted Michigan’s statewide stay-home order and plans to allow restaurants and retailers — among other economic sectors — to start operating at reduced capacities within a week.

The state is entering Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan, she announced at her Monday news briefing on COVID-19. She also signed a new executive order, EO 2020-110, rescinding 2020-69 and 2020-96, two previous stay-home-related orders. She announced several closures of businesses, like bars and restaurants, on March 16, and issued the first coronavirus-related statewide lockdown order on March 24. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khladun give an update on COVID-19 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

“We can’t let our guard down, but now we are in a position to move forward,” Whitmer said Monday.

Whitmer has been slowly rolling back emergency measures taken to fight COVID-19. Before Memorial Day, she allowed many functions in the Upper Peninsula and part of northern Michigan to reopen.

Last week, she signed orders permitting non-essential medical procedures to start up and retailers to open by appointment.

Under her new orders Monday, restaurants and bars can begin operating at 50% capacity with in-person dining by June 8, and retailers can operate at reduced capacity without scheduled appointments as soon as Thursday. Libraries and museums can also open up on June 8.

Groups of 100 or less are allowed to gather outdoors as long as social distancing practices are followed. Last week, she had authorized small gatherings of 10 people or less.

MI Safe Start Plan regions

Drive-in theaters can open. Office personnel can return to their workplaces if their work cannot be performed remotely and in-house cleaning services can start back up, per Whitmer’s EO.

Other things that can start back up — subject to continued regulation — are outdoor classes at gyms and fitness centers, practices, training sessions and games. Outdoor pools can reopen as long as capacity is reduced to 50%. 

State campgrounds and overnight shelters are set to open on June 22.

Whitmer said she plans to issue additional orders on reopening in the coming days. The stay-home order was initially supposed to last until June 12, but Whitmer said current COVID-19 data trends downward look promising. Michigan has more than 57,000 cases and 5,500 deaths, but most areas of the state have seen a slowdown in recent weeks.

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“If the current trajectory [of COVID-19 data] continues, I anticipate in the next few weeks, we’ll be able to announce the rest of the state moving into Phase 5,” she said.

Phase 5 includes opening theaters, hair salons, indoor gymnasiums, personal services and overnight camps, Whitmer said, provided they follow additional health guidelines. 

She and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, also urged constituents to take their roles seriously by getting tested, washing their hands, social distancing and wearing masks in order to prevent a second COVID-19 wave in the fall. 

C.J. Moore
C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.