(WXYZ) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a partial reopening of some of the state this week.
Whitmer announced that the Upper Peninsula and parts of the northern Lower Peninsula will move into phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan. Specifically, Region 8 – the U.P – and Region 6 – the Traverse City area – of the Michigan Ecnomic Recovery Council
Retail businesses, including bars and restaurants, will be able to open with 50 percent capacity.
She added that she is hopeful to she can announce more re-engagement for other parts of the state later this week before Memorial Day weekend
“This is a big step, but we must all remember to continue doing our part to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said in a release. “It’s crucial that all businesses do everything in their power to protect their workers, customers, and their families. And as we approach Memorial Day weekend, I encourage everyone to be smart and be safe. My team and I will continue to work around the clock to protect the people of Michigan.”
“The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “It’s important to note that these businesses must take special precautions to protect Michiganders. I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a 6 foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often. This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state.”
Whitmer did urge people to be smart, and not go rushing Up North during the Memorial Day weekend
"The whole state is watching to make sure we get this right," she said during the press conference.
“We are thankful to Governor Whitmer as today marks an important first step of reintegrating restaurants into the fabric of our daily lives,” said Justin Winslow, President and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. “Restaurants in the U.P. and northern Michigan understand that with their opportunity comes an extraordinary responsibility to operate in a manner that ensures the safety of their guests and their employees. I believe they are up to the challenge.”
“Like Gov. Whitmer, Mayors in Michigan support the well-being of all our citizens,” said Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers. “All regions of Michigan have been affected by COVID-19, and Up North, we want to support the Governor by cautiously opening up some of our economy resources. However, in doing so, we must be mindful that wearing masks and continuing to practice social distancing is a must to make this work. Stopping the spread of this virus is still key and if we can’t, then we will have to close it down again.”
“I support the shift to making decisions on a regional level when possible,” said Marquette Mayor Jenna Smith. “As restrictions are slowly eased, it will be important for us to remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus.”
The Republican-led Legislature has been arguing for a partial reopening of some areas with lower case counts.
Earlier this month, Whitmer announced the six phases of the "MI Safe Start Plan."
The phases of the pandemic include:
1) UNCONTROLLED GROWTH: The increasing number of new cases every day, overwhelming our health systems.
2) PERSISTENT SPREAD: We continue to see high case levels with concern about health system capacity.
3) FLATTENING: The epidemic is no longer increasing and the health-system's capacity is sufficient for current needs.
4) IMPROVING: Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining.
5) CONTAINING: Continued case and death rate improvements, with outbreaks quickly contained.
6) POST-PANDEMIC: Community spread not expected to return.
Currently, we are in the third phase, and phase four will include opening retails stores and some offices if employees can't work from home.
Speaking to 7 Action News last week, Whitmer did say she hoped to resume small gatherings of 10 or less people "pretty quickly."
The state's coronavirus numbers continue to trend downward. On Sunday, the state reported 11 deaths, the lowest daily total in months, and 638 cases.
On top of that, Detroit – one of the city's hardest hit by the virus – reported zero deaths for the first time since late March.
Read the entire Executive Order below.
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.
View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.
Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.
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