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Michigan Restaurants and Bars Can Increase Indoor Dining Capacity Starting March 5

Starting Friday, March 5, Michigan restaurants and bars can increase indoor dining capacity to 50 percent, or up to 100 people

A shot looking down the bar at Baobab Fare with six bright yellow bar stools set atop a blue and white tile floor
The bar at Baobab Fare in New Center
Gerard + Belevender

Starting Friday, March 5, Michigan restaurants and bars can increase indoor dining capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent, or up to 100 people. A closing curfew remains in place. Restaurants and bars must now close by 11 p.m., rather than 10 p.m.

As in the previous order, tables at restaurants and bars must be spaced six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other entertainment establishments can increase indoor capacity to 50 percent or up to 300 people inside with proper social distancing measures in place. Outdoor non-residential gatherings of up to 300 people will also be permitted under the new order.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the changes to the current executive order during a Tuesday afternoon press conference. The order takes effect Friday and runs through Monday, April 19.

Despite recent declines in cases, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is “deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic.” Walensky warned against further relaxing COVID-related restrictions as new, potentially more virulent strains of the virus continue spreading across the country. “We stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” she said.

Last month, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) proposed its own reopening plan for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the governor to consider which ties indoor capacity limits to COVID-19 positivity rates. The MRLA plan, however, doesn’t take into account the CDC consistently listing indoor dining among the highest risk activities for the potential spread of the virus, especially when indoor seating capacity isn’t reduced.

Without capacity limits in place, the proposed plan also leaves restaurant and bar employees at further risk for contracting COVID-19 while on the job. The vast majority of restaurant and bar employees in Michigan, and across the country, have yet to be vaccinated.

Food service workers living or working in the city of Detroit and in Oakland County are now eligible to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. All eligible Detroit residents and food service industry employees should call 313-230-0505 to schedule an appointment for their first and second vaccine dose. Vaccinations take place at the TCF Center downtown.

An additional 82,000 doses of the newly approved Johnson and Johnson vaccine arrives in the state this week, Whitmer said. As of publication, Michigan has distributed 2,941,475 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Read the full order below:

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