Despite a weekend of civil turmoil across the country, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is continuing the process of reopening the state by rescinding the “Safer at Home” order and issuing a new executive order allowing restaurants and bars throughout Michigan to reopen for dine-in service both inside and outdoors on Monday, June 8. The restaurant opening is “subject to capacity limits,” according to a release.
The news comes as Whitmer moves the entire state into phase four of her MI Safe Start Plan. When the plan was initially rolled out, people expected that restaurants and bars would only be permitted to open in phase five as the diagram outlined, but that has not been the case. Whitmer estimates that the whole state could reach phase five before the Fourth of July.
Restaurants and bars have been closed for dine-in service since March 16 with the exception of those in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, which were permitted to reopen on May 22 with 50 percent capacity and six-feet between groups. Servers are required to wear face coverings, and restaurants must follow “rigorous disinfection protocols” and provide COVID-19 training to employees. In many cases, restaurants elected not to reopen for regular service immediately citing concerns over the health of employees and customers as well as issues with the supply chain.
Several Detroit restaurant owners previously told Eater that they felt a May 29 opening date proposed by the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association would be too soon — with the exception of outdoor seating.
Experts view outdoor dining as slightly lower risk than dining indoors. Several municipalities have already enacted new rules allowing restaurants to expand patio seating due to novel coronavirus and Detroit is considering similar rules.
Michigan has been one of the more cautious states in returning to work during the pandemic. The state — particularly regions of Southeast Michigan — has been hit hard by COVID-19. Nearly 5,500 people have died from complications related to COVID-19 since the first cases were identified in March.
The governor is also loosening restrictions of gatherings. Effective immediately, groups of 100 people or less will be allowed to gather outdoors with social distancing, and workers who cannot do jobs remotely can return to offices. House cleaning services are also allowed to begin work and public pools can open with restricted capacity. Gyms and fitness centers may also begin hosting classes, so long as they’re outside-only with social distancing. Whitmer’s announced in May that Michigan retailers and car dealerships would be allowed to open for limited service with social distancing and COVID-19 safety procedures in place on June 4.
The new order does not alter any current rules put in place for restaurants in Traverse City and the Upper Peninsula.
Read the full Executive Order No. 2020-110 permitting bars and restaurants to reopen June 8:
• Restaurants Prepare For a Complicated Memorial Day Weekend Reopening in Northern Michigan [ED]
• Michigan Governor Orders Statewide Closure of All Restaurants and Bars for Dine-in Service [ED]
• How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Detroit Food and Beverage Industry [ED]
Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the local food industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at email@example.com.