The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is rolling back regulations designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Under the updated epidemic orders, restaurants, retail and indoor entertainment venues are allowed to be at 50% capacity; indoor public meetings and other small indoor gatherings are allowed up to 25 people; and outdoor gatherings are permitted up to 300. Casinos and gyms will be allowed more patrons at 30% capacity, and people can visit family members in nursing homes following a negative COVID-19 test.
“Of course, there is a limitation. We’re doing this incrementally, but these are all the places where we can safely do more.” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
“The isolation and the time apart have been taxing on everyone with loved ones and long-term care facilities. Under the new guidelines, family members will be able to go and visit their relatives and nursing homes after receiving a negative COVID-19 test,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said at a news conference this afternoon.
She said with the presence of a more-contagious COVID-19 variant, the state will continue with a guarded approach.
“Of course, there is a limitation. We’re doing this incrementally, but these are all the places where we can safely do more,” she said.
The changes go into effect on Friday.
Despite the change in regulations, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said the rollback was “woefully inadequate.” Michigan Republicans have been advocating for the elimination of COVID-19 restrictions for months – regardless of the number of active infections.
The number of COVID-19 cases has dropped dramatically from a November – but the weekly average is still higher than it was last summer.
The state has been monitoring and weighing three key metrics in the decision to relax regulations: hospitalizations, overall case rates and positivity rate. According to MDHHS, hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 is now at 3.9%, compared to a peak of nearly 20% in December. After dropping for six weeks, overall case rates are plateauing at 91.2 cases per million, similar to the rate at the beginning of October. The positivity rate is now at 3.7%, a slight increase from last week’s rate of 3.5%.