MICHIGAN — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated the existing epidemic order on Wednesday, extending the ban on indoor dining until February 1, but allowing other activities to resume at the end of this week.
Governor Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS formally made the announcement during a briefing. Previously the Governor's Office and Michigan License Beverage Association confirmed the extension to FOX 17.
While restaurants cannot open for in-person dining, other businesses that offer group workouts and non-contact sports can start up on January 16.
“The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and small business owners are working. While there has been a slight uptick in our percent positivity rate, our cases per million have plateaued and more hospital beds are becoming available. Today, we are confident that MDHHS can lift some of the protocols that were previously in place,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The Governor and Dr. Khaldun cited improving numbers on the number of hospitalized COVID patients, COVID cases per million, and positivity rate of testing for reasons why some of the restrictions will be lifted on the 16th.
After peaking at just below 20 percent on December 4, the percentage of hospital beds statewide used for COVID patients is now at 12 percent. On November 14 the state reported 740 million cases per million. Now Michigan is seeing around 266 cases per million, a slight rise from the recent low of 239 per million on Christmas Day. The positivity rate is just above 9 percent, and MDHHS says that is holding steady.
“We are reopening cautiously because caution is working to save lives. The new order allows group exercise and non-contact sports, always with masks and social distancing, because in the winter it’s not as easy to get out and exercise and physical activity is important for physical and mental health,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “We are glad that we made it through the holidays without a big increase in numbers, but there are also worrying signs in the new numbers."
While the ban on indoor dining will continue, the Governor says the plan is to not extend beyond February 1, assuming the numbers on COVID-19 hold steady or improve through the rest of January. Restaurants will have to operate with capacity limits and restrictions on operating hours, should indoor dining be allowed to start February.