The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released an updated epidemic order on Wednesday, January 13, extending indoor dining room closures at restaurants and bars through Sunday, January 31. Restaurants and bars may continue to offer takeout, delivery, and some forms of outdoor service.
The “working plan,” according to a release, is to “open indoor dining with mitigation measures, capacity limits and a curfew on February 1.” However, the state continues to monitor key indicators including hospital capacity, overall case rates, and the percent positivity rate. It’s not clear how effective curfews are in limiting the spread of COVID-19, though many states and municipalities have experimented with them and the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association has pushed for one.
It’s the latest extension of a highly contentious pause on indoor service that began on Wednesday, November 18, and was originally slated to last three weeks. The state had previously indicated that dining rooms would likely be the last to reopen due to the fact that customers must remove their masks to eat and drink indoors — a particularly risky behavior due to the airborne transmission of COVID-19.
The new order takes effect on Saturday, January 16, replacing the previous order. While vaccinations are now underway across the country, the U.S. is currently charting more than 4,000 COVID-19 related deaths per day. Michigan experienced its surge beginning in October up until the indoor dining ban was put in place. Since then, numbers across the state have slowly declined and MDHHS has gradually lifted some restrictions on places like theaters, casinos, high schools.
Under the new order, non-contact sports and indoor, group exercise may resume with some limitations. Nightclubs remain closed for service. Colleges and universities can restart in-person courses on Monday, January 18.
• Michigan Extends Indoor Dining Closure Through January 15 [ED]
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• What Are Michigan’s COVID-19 Rules for Restaurants and Bars Right Now? [ED]