LANSING, Mich. — Getting back to normal in Michigan is now officially tied to getting COVID-19 vaccines into arms.
On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveiled a four-step plan to lifting COVID-19 restrictions, which start when 55% of Michiganders have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Two weeks after that, in-person work will be allowed to resume at all businesses.
Two weeks after 60% of people are vaccinated - 4,858,150 residents
- Indoor capacity at sports stadiums will increase to 25%
- Indoor capacity at conference centers, banquet halls & funeral homes will increase to 25%
- Bars and restaurants will not be required to close early
Two weeks after 65% of people are vaccinated - 5,262,996 residents
- All indoor capacity limits will be lifted
- Social distancing still has to be maintained
Two weeks after 70% of people are vaccinated - 5,667,842 residents
- Gatherings and Facemask order will be lifted by the MDHHS
Whitmer said we could see an updated epidemic health order as soon as Friday with new guidance on outdoor gatherings. On Thursday, she made it clear that if you want to ditch masks and capacity restrictions, get your COVID-19 shot.
"No matter what it takes to get it, people need to do it," Rev. Horace Sheffield said.
He hopes the trust his congregation and community have put in him for years encourages more Detroiters to trust the vaccine. He leads the Detroit Association of Black Organizations, which is hosting a vaccine clinic to get more shots in arms.
Doctors say vaccine hesitancy remains a big obstacle in the state reaching herd immunity.
"The suffering we've gone through is in our hands to abate, this is not Uncle Sam, this is not the boogeyman, this is nothing other than us being responsible with the life we've been given," he added.
Whitmer on Thursday offered a clear path forward to get out of the pandemic for the state, when it reaches 70% of people getting at least their first dose.
"This is a creative way of challenging us to rise to this moment and to meet it," she said.
Not everyone is a fan of the governor's four-step plan, including the Macomb County Restaurant and Banquet Association, which has a pending lawsuit against the governor over lost revenue tied to restrictions.
Many are asking, what happens if not enough people agree to get their shot? Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the new plan could send the wrong message.
"My background, if it ain't a law you can't force people to do things," he said. "I don't think this is the right direction."
The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, which has regularly been at odds with the governor over restrictions, has supported this new plan.