LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave an update Thursday morning on the state's pandemic response, lifting all capacity limits on outdoor gatherings and increasing indoor limits to 50% of capacity on June 1.
On July 1, the state plans to lift the broad mask and gatherings limits.
Watch it here:
Targeted measures for vulnerable populations may still be in place.
Restrictions may not be lifted if "unexpected circumstances" arise, such as a COVID-19 variant that current vaccines do not protect against -- though Whitmer says she doesn't expect that to happen.
The new plan replaces the "Vacc to Normal" plan announced late last month, which tied the lifting of restrictions to the percentage of residents vaccinated.
"Soon, Michiganders will be able to celebrate together, have summer weddings and even enjoy a 4th of July barbeque with family and friends," Whitmer said. "This is what we have all been working so hard towards, and I am so grateful to every Michigander who continues to go above and beyond to keep themselves, their family, and our communities safe. Thanks to them, we can take these final steps towards a return to the normalcy and build our economy back stronger than ever.”
Whitmer says the relaxed restrictions are thanks to new CDC guidance announced last week that was based on the strength of the vaccines at preventing infection and spread.
According to the guidance, vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or socially distance indoors or outdoors.
Fully vaccinated people in Michigan currently do not need to wear masks, though businesses have to right to still require them for everyone.
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist says he hopes the news will encourage residents who have not already gotten vaccinated to do so.
“This vaccine is helping our small businesses reopen their doors. It’s allowing our economy to come back stronger than ever and allows for a sense of normalcy to return for families across our state," Gilchrist said. "I hope that this news is an added incentive for those on the fence about getting a vaccine. I will remain focused on encouraging every Michigander to make a vaccine appointment if they haven’t already. This is how we move forward, together.”
To reflect the changes, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), will release an updated epidemic order on Monday. Throughout the month of June, people who are not yet fully vaccinated will still be required to mask up while indoors.
The Small Business Association of Michigan and the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association issued statements supporting the state's new reopening plan.
Read the SBAM's statement:
“Today marks an important step for small business owners everywhere. The revised Emergency Epidemic Order accomplishes several important goals. First, and more importantly, it gives a date certain when epidemic emergency orders will end. Second, it makes near term changes that will allow banquet halls, convention centers and other indoor gathering facilities to start to ramp up operations in June. And finally, it will allow for many of the festivals, fairs and other community events that make our state so special to commence this summer.
“We look forward to changes to MIOSHA workplace safety rules that will hopefully streamline the temporary rules, bringing them into compliance with CDC guidelines and abandon the proposal for permanent rules.”
Read the MRLA's statement:
The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association welcomes the clear guidance today from MDHHS towards Michigan’s full economic reintegration and takes solace in knowing that our advocacy on behalf of event and banquet centers will prevent the outright loss of another wedding, graduation and conference season.
As Michigan’s hospitality industry now pivots to meet unprecedented pent-up demand to dine and travel free of occupancy restrictions, our focus will turn aggressively to securing workforce solutions that help restaurant, hotel and resort operators meet staffing needs. It would be a preventable tragedy if Michigan’s hospitality industry, which endured 159 days of closure and 16 months of occupancy restrictions, was rendered incapable of realizing its newfound opportunity because well-intended, but outdated policies discouraged a full return to the workforce. Michigan’s labor participation rate ranks 42nd in the nation and as such we need bipartisan solutions to address this immediate threat to our hospitality revival.