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Whitmer admin issues 3-week epidemic order limiting gatherings, closing dine-in at restaurants

The order takes effect on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced new COVID-19 restrictions in a rare Sunday press conference. 

The new emergency order enacts a three-week pause on indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates.

Under this order, indoor residential gatherings are limited to two households at any one time. However, MDHHS strongly urges families to pick a single other household to interact with over the next three weeks, consistent with new guidance released by the department.

Bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery only. Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place.

Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes will be closed.

Professional and college sports may continue without spectators, however, all other organized sports must stop. Under the order, colleges and high schools are ordered to proceed with remote learning only, ending in-person classes.

The order, which takes effect Wednesday, Nov. 18, is not a blanket stay-home action like in the spring. The order leaves open any work that cannot be performed from home, including manufacturing, construction and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open.

Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines. 

In-person K-8 schooling may continue if it can be done with strong mitigation, including mask requirements, based on discussion between local health and school officials. Childcare also remains open to support working parents.  

Credit: Michigan.gov

"As the weather gets colder, and people spend more time indoors, people will get sick," Whitmer said during the press conference. “Our response is strongest when we are unified."

"In the spring, we listened to public health experts, stomped the curve, and saved thousands of lives together. Now, we must channel that same energy and join forces again to protect our families, frontline workers and small businesses," she continued. 

RELATED: Doctors advise against small indoor gatherings this holiday season

"Right now, there are thousands of cases a day and hundreds of deaths a week in Michigan, and the number is growing. If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed. We can get through this together by listening to health experts once again and taking action right now to slow the spread of this deadly virus," she added.

The new order comes after the state reported the highest daily case numbers to date during the pandemic, with over 7,000 new cases announced on Saturday and over 8,500 on Friday. That brings the total cases in Michigan to 251,813. 

The total death toll in Michigan now stands at 7,994.

There has been a total of 10,846,373 cases in the United States so far with over 244,000 deaths, according to the CDC. 

►Watch the full press conference here.

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