The state of Michigan will be re-opening to full capacity on June 22, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday.
All indoor and outdoor events will be allowed to operate at full capacity, meaning all Michiganders — regardless of vaccination status — will be able to participate in activities like indoor dining and outdoor festivals without masks. The lifting of the COVID-19 regulations comes after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “MI Vacc to Normal Challenge,” was announced in April. The four-step plan was released when less than 50% of the Michigan population was vaccinated and promised residents a gradual lifting of restrictions as the vaccination percentage increased.
The fourth and final step of the plan stated that once 70% of those 16 or older — about 5.9 million Michiganders — received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Whitmer would lift all restrictions relating to gatherings and the Face Mask Order. The step came with the possible exception of if COVID-19 numbers are increasing and threatening the medical system, or if a vaccine-resistant variant emerges. However, Whitmer tweeted this final decision could be made because of residents’ vaccination efforts.
“It’s a day we’ve all been looking forward to,” Whitmer wrote. “I’m happy to announce the end of all epidemic orders on gathering & masking. Thanks to those who rolled up their sleeves to get the safe & effective vaccines, cases have plummeted & we’re able to make these changes ahead of schedule.”
Last month, Whitmer also made amendments to her plan after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it was safe for fully vaccinated individuals to carry out life without masks. On May 14, Whitmer announced the end to many COVID-19 restrictions starting June 1, and that all vaccinated and unvaccinated Michigan residents did not have to wear a mask in public beginning July 1. However, other restrictions such as maintaining a 50% capacity for bars and restaurants were to remain in effect until the anticipated July 1. Now, with an earlier than expected opening, Whitmer tweeted her thanks for frontline workers that have helped push the state through the pandemic safely.
“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the medical experts & health professionals who stood on the front lines to keep us all safe,” Whitmer wrote. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that Michigan’s families, small businesses, & communities emerge stronger than ever.”
Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, released a statement confirming the early opening and commemorated Whitmer’s leadership throughout the pandemic.
“Now, millions of Michiganders are vaccinated and brighter days are on the horizon,” Scott wrote. “Here at Progress Michigan, we’re grateful for Gov. Whitmer’s efforts throughout this crisis and ready to help our state recover from the impact of COVID and come back even stronger than before.”
Daily Staff Reporter Nadir Al-Saidi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.