Whitmer plans to lift ban on indoor dining by Feb. 1, updates vaccine rollout plan
Indoor dining will most likely resume in Michigan on Feb. 1, nearly three months after it was temporarily shut down, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Whitmer also provided details on how the state plans to administer COVID-19 vaccines, including efforts to get more vaccines into the state.
Michigan will also allow indoor group fitness and exercise classes, including K-12 extracurricular activities, to resume with masks and strict social distancing requirements on Jan. 16. This order will last until Jan. 31, after which the epidemic order is again subject to modification.
“If numbers continue to head in the right direction, our hope is that we will resume indoor dining with strong safety measures such as mask requirements, capacity limits and a curfew,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer’s office initially closed indoor dining at bars and restaurants on Nov. 15 to curb the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Michigan. The epidemic order, which was initially scheduled to last three weeks, has been extended as COVID-19 cases rise nationwide. Throughout the holiday season, Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Human and Health Services extended these COVID-19 restrictions following high levels of domestic air travel.
“The virus is still a real threat and we need to use these (safety) tools so that we can eventually open up the rest of our economy that has been struggling,” Whitmer said.
Small businesses across the country have faced the brunt of economic struggles in response to COVID-19 restrictions. In Ann Arbor, when the Nov. 15 epidemic order restricted indoor dining, local restaurants struggled to stay afloat. Whitmer also signed a bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill, on Dec. 22, which will provide $55 million to support small businesses struggling from decreased revenue.
Whitmer then acknowledged the shortage of vaccine doses in the state and said she has taken steps to increase its supply, including requesting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services release vaccines being previously held back by the Donald Trump administration, which has been granted. Whitmer also requested permission from the federal government to directly purchase vaccines from the manufacturer.
“We are facing a new but welcomed challenge, which is the increased demand for the vaccine,” Whitmer said. “We have developed a strategy to accelerate vaccines (supply) in Michigan. Hospitals, pharmacies all are ready to ramp up administering vaccinations to meet our goal of 50,000 shots in arms per day.”
As of Jan. 12, the state of Michigan has distributed a total of 831,150 vaccines, with highest distribution rates in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, Washtenaw and Kent counties.
Whitmer also announced that Meijer is the state’s initial pharmacy partner for receiving and administering COVID-19 vaccines. Meijer will administer the vaccine in a limited number of stores in Wayne County to residents 65 and older, starting the week of Jan. 18.
“Meijer has 120 pharmacies across the state and they will help us get closer to our goal,” Whitmer said.
Daily Staff Reporter Varsha Vedapudi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us — including The Michigan Daily — but that hasn’t stopped our staff. We’re committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.
For a weekly roundup of the best stories from The Michigan Daily, sign up for our newsletter here.