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Whitmer announces relaxed restrictions in restaurants, nursing homes

Nursing home restriction rollbacks go into effect immediately, while restaurant and retail restrictions take effect Friday, March 5.

On Tuesday, Michigan officials announced restriction rollbacks while cautioning about the continued need for COVID-19 safety precautions especially with the presence of variants in the state.

“We continue to monitor the data closely, and based on current trends we are taking another step toward normalcy," said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel. "We urge Michiganders to continue doing what works and wearing a mask, washing their hands and avoiding crowds.” 

A number of restrictions are being rolled back between two different orders. Among the new restrictions, restaurants and retail will be able to increase capacity to 50%, nursing homes will be able to allow visitation and group activities and indoor entertainment venues can increase to 50% capacity (up to 300 people) 

MDHHS identified three COVID-19 metrics it's been monitoring and using to make decisions on restrictions, including hospitalizations, case rates and the positivity rate. 

Currently, COVID-19 patients account for 3.9% of hospital capacity (this metric peaked at 19.6% in December), case rates are currently plateauing at 91.2 cases per million and the positivity rate, or the number of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, is at 3.7%.

But the presence and spread of the B.1.1.7 variant and others, "threatens our progress in control of the epidemic and MDHHS will be monitoring data closely" read a press release about the new orders. 

The order that allows visitation and group dining at residential care facilities goes into effect immediately. Visitors ages 13 and up must test negative for COVID-19 before entering the building and no visitors are allowed at facilities that have had a positive case in the two weeks prior. Masks and social distancing will also be required. 

The changes to business capacities go into effect on Friday, March 5, and include the following:

•    Restaurants and bars are allowed to be at 50% capacity up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. There is now an 11 p.m. curfew.

•    Indoor non-residential gatherings where people interact across households are permitted up to 25 people, allowing public meetings and other small indoor gatherings to resume. 

•    Outdoor non-residential gatherings where people interact across households are permitted up to 300, allowing larger outdoor events to resume. 

•    Indoor entertainment venues are allowed to be at 50% capacity, up to 300 people. 

•    Exercise facilities are allowed to be at 30% capacity with restrictions on distancing and mask requirements. 

•    Retail is allowed to be at 50% capacity. 

•    Casinos are allowed to be at 30% capacity.

•    Indoor stadiums and arenas are allowed have 375 if seating capacity is under 10,000; 750 if seating capacity is over 10,000. 

•    Outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities may host up to 1,000 patrons. 

Indoor residential gatherings are now limited to 15 people from three households and outdoor gatherings can include up to 50 people. 

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