June 22, 2021 UPDATE: Michigan Lifts Most COVID Mandates. Here’s What It Means for Restaurants and Bars
Michigan restaurants can accommodate more guests starting June 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday, May 20.
All indoor gatherings can proceed at 50 percent capacity no matter the size of the space, according to the new plan. There will be no restrictions on outdoor gatherings. Currently, restaurants offering indoor dining cannot exceed 50 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer; the new rule would allow large restaurants to potentially serve more than 100 people indoors. The curfews for restaurants and bars forcing closures at 11 p.m. will also end.
The moves are the first steps in a broader plan to remove all COVID-19 restrictions in the state by July 1.
“That means that an indoor gathering like a wedding or a funeral or a conference or graduation will be allowed to resume at 50 percent capacity through the month of June,” said Whitmer, who made the announcement from a Minor League ballpark in Midland, a nod to new regulations for outdoor gatherings. “People who are not fully vaccinated are required to continue to mask up when they are indoors,” she added.
The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, which represents more than 5,000 foodservice and lodging businesses, said it would pivot toward helping the industry solve its worker policies and labor shortage issues.
“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,” the association said in a statement.
“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of occupancy restrictions, was rendered incapable of realizing its newfound opportunity because well-intended, but outdated policies discouraged a full return to the workforce.“
Outdoor capacity limits also disappear on June 1. This means food festivals, sporting events, restaurants, and bars can operate at full capacity beginning next month. All mask mandates will end July 1 but restaurants or bars can still require their patrons to wear face coverings.
To reflect these changes, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will release an updated epidemic order on Monday, May 24. Throughout June, people who are not yet fully vaccinated will still be required to wear masks indoors, although there was no word on how this would be enforced.
Small Business Association of Michigan President Brian Calley called the relaxed regulations “an important step forward.”
More than half of Michiganders have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but Detroit is lagging, with just 34.8 percent of residents receiving a jab, as of May 18.
- Outdoor capacity limits will be lifted
- 50 percent capacity limits on indoor dining, regardless of size
- All mask mandates and gathering orders will end