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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced loosening of statewide COVID-19 health and safety restrictions sooner than previously expected at a press conference Thursday in Midland, Mich.

Under Whitmer’s updated plan, all outdoor capacity limits in Michigan will be lifted on June 1 while the indoor capacity limit will remain at 50%. As announced last week, on July 1, every Michigan resident will be able to be maskless indoors and outdoors, unless mandated otherwise by the workplace or businesses. Whitmer further announced that July 1 will mark the end of all broad pandemic mitigation measures and gathering restrictions in the state, barring unforeseen circumstances. 

“We look at this as the last moment of these types of orders,” Whitmer said. “We will be able to sing at church, dance at weddings, cheer at games, hug each other and laugh together.”

When the CDC changed its guidance last week to no longer recommend masks or social distancing for fully vaccinated people, Whitmer’s administration decided to rework its plan. Previously, Whitmer laid out a multi-step “Vacc to Normal” plan that gradually lifted restrictions as the state vaccination rate increased. Instead of correlation with the percentage of vaccinated Michigan residents, the new benchmarks are now tied to the two dates previously mentioned.

Whitmer also clarified that regardless of the state’s policy change, private businesses still reserve the right to require customers and patrons to wear masks.

“I want to be clear about the fact that businesses and workplaces are well within their rights to require masks as patrons go in,” Whitmer said. “So let’s give them our support as they navigate what’s best for them and their workforce, and their patrons.”

Whitmer also acknowledged that many Michigan residents may feel uncertain about the updated mask guidelines and encouraged everyone to remain hopeful throughout the transition. 

“After a year of living with COVID, with masks and distancing and hand washing, I know how jarring any change to our daily lives feels,” Whitmer said. “In this time of transition, I’m asking that people extend one another a little bit of grace. As we return to normal, we should remember that tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

Summer Managing News Editor and Summer Daily News Editor Christian Juliano and Lily Gooding can be reached at julianoc@umich.edu and goodingl@umich.edu