Revised order allows 50 percent restaurant capacity
Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:16pm caleb
Restaurants and bars can move from 25 percent to 50 percent capacity on Friday, March 5, state officials announce on Tuesday
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
State officials – including Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – announced changes to Michigan’s epidemic order regulations on Tuesday, March 2, that will allow businesses such as bars, restaurants, retail stores, gyms, and casinos to serve more people at one time starting on Friday, March 5.
Governor Whitmer – during Tuesday’s update to the state – said Michigan is currently doing well with COVID-19 case rates and vaccinations compared to other states.
“Our case count and positivity rates remain among the lowest in the nation,” Governor Whitmer said.
The March 2 version of the “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services allows “food service establishments” to operate indoor dining at 50 percent of their normal capacity “or 100 persons, whichever is less.” The new order also changes the previous curfew of 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. for indoor dining.
“Today we are announcing that restaurants and bars can operate at 50 percent capacity. That’s up from 25 percent,” Governor Whitmer said. “Additionally, today’s public health order increases capacity limits in retail, casinos, gyms, stadiums, and other entertainment and recreational facilities.”
According to the new Gatherings and Face Mask Order, “Gatherings at non-tribal casinos may not exceed 30 percent of total occupancy limits. At indoor stadiums and arenas, no more than 375 patrons may be gathered at venues with a seating capacity under 10,000, and no more than 750 patrons may be gathered at venues with a seating capacity of over 10,000. For indoor entertainment and recreation facilities, no more than 300 patrons may be gathered within any distinct space within the venue. For outdoor entertainment and recreation facilities, no more than 1000 patrons may be gathered. A gathering at a retail setting, library, or museum must not exceed 50 percent of total occupancy limits. At exercise facilities gatherings must not exceed 30 percent of the total occupancy limits.”
“We’re doing this incrementally but these are all the places where we can safely do more,” Governor Whitmer said.
According to the March 2 Gatherings and Face Mask Order, “Indoor gatherings are prohibited at residential venues, except where no more than 15 persons from no more than three households are gathered. Indoor gatherings are prohibited at non-residential venues, except where no more than 25 persons are gathered. Outdoor gatherings are permitted at residential venues (50 or fewer persons). Outdoor gatherings are permitted at non-residential venues (300 or fewer persons).”
“We continue to monitor COVID trends closely and re-evaluate our current epidemic orders to determine when and where it is safe to re-engage,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Due to the trends that we’re seeing we’re taking a step forward, but a cautious one.”
“The changes to the Gatherings and Face Mask Order will go into effect Friday, March 5, and will remain in effect until April 19. Under this revised order restaurants and bars are allowed to be at 50 percent capacity. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table and there is now an 11 o’clock curfew. Indoor entertainment venues are allowed to be at 50 percent capacity up to 300 people. Gyms and group fitness facilities are allowed to be at 30 percent capacity. Retail is open to 50 percent capacity. Casinos are also open to 30 percent capacity, and stadiums and arenas will be allowed to have 375 people if their capacity is under 10,000 or 750 if their capacity is over 10,000,” Hertel said. “And as we approach our spring holidays and celebrations, our indoor residential gatherings will go up to 15 people indoors from three households but our outdoor residential gatherings can include up to 50 people. For indoor non-residential gatherings the capacities will increase to 25 people and outdoor gatherings will be limited to 300 people in non-residential settings and 1,000 for entertainment and recreation venues.”
Some regulations in the new Gatherings and Face Mask Order have not been changed from the previous version.
“The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause other venues and activities where participants have close physical contacts and are not consistently masked, such as water parks. As before, employees whose work cannot be performed from home should continue to go to work, and employees who can work from home should continue to do so,” Hertel said.
“While we are getting closer to putting this pandemic behind us – and with that comes a sense of relief – it is important to remember that COVID-19 is still present in our communities and across the state. So just like the re-engagement of contact sports, return to learn, and starting in-person dining after a pause, we are counting on everyone to help make this work and avoid any steps backward,” Hertel said.
“The increased capacity limits outlined in this order will still give us the ability to protect public health as we carefully track variants and continue leading with science and data,” Governor Whitmer said. “We’ll also enable more people to go back to work and I am proud that we are able to take this positive step without compromising public health. All of these re-engagements will enable Michiganders to enjoy more of life’s simplest pleasures that have been disrupted over the past year.”
“The only reason we are at this point is because you’ve been doing the right thing every day to protect yourself and your family and your community by wearing a mask and washing your hands and maintaining social distance. We know that these are the three pillars of pandemic public health and they’re not going away, and so I urge you to stay vigilant and stay safe,” Governor Whitmer said.