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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Michigan’s mask and capacity restrictions end Tuesday. What you need to know.

masks
Michigan restaurants, gyms and bars can operate at full capacity after months of limiting seating to 50 percent due to COVID-19.

Aug. 4: Gov. Whitmer urges Michigan schools to mask up, stops short of mandate
July 27: CDC recommends indoor mask use. But don’t expect mandates in Michigan

Capacity limits on businesses across Michigan, along with mask mandates, end Tuesday as COVID-19 cases continue to plummet.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced last week that the restrictions, once set to expire July 1, would end nine days early, because of the drop in cases. Michigan is now reporting the fewest COVID-19 hospitalizations since it began keeping records in the weeks after the pandemic began in 2020.

Here’s what you need to know:

Full capacity: Businesses, including retail stores, restaurants, fitness gyms and event venues, including funeral homes, can operate at full capacity. They had been limited to 50 percent of capacity.

Related:

Masks: Those who are not vaccinated are asked — but not required — to wear masks indoors in public settings. The state is still recommending masks in some settings, including in long-term care facilities that had recorded over 5,500 COVID-19 deaths, health care facilities and in jails and prisons and homeless shelters.

Other limits: Lesser-known restrictions including mandatory testing for staffers at jails and juvenile justice facilities also end Tuesday, as do restrictions for funeral homes governing expedited arrangements.

What gives: A first-term Democratic governor, Whitmer enacted tough restrictions early in the pandemic, shutting down schools and most businesses.

But after Republicans successfully challenged her emergency powers in  court, the restrictions on schools, businesses and individuals came from her health department. 

Many business owners have argued the restrictions should have ended months ago, and Whitmer had initially planned on removing limits once 70 percent of the state’s adults got at least one dose of the vaccine.

Michigan is at 60.8 percent, as demand for the vaccine has plummeted. 

Yet cases continue to fall in Michigan and around the country. The drop continued Monday, with the state reporting 327 cases over the past three days, the fewest-ever reported over three days since April 2020. And just over 1 percent of more than 41,000 tests came back positive — again, the lowest since the pandemic began.

 

Will restrictions return? It’s possible but seems unlikely.

Michigan’s decline in cases the past month mirrors a drop last summer — bolstering the theory that COVID-19 could be more prevalent in fall and winter months, when people are less active, inside more often and immune systems are weaker.

Unlike last summer, though, more than half of Michigan is now vaccinated, which decreases the likelihood of massive outbreaks that would necessitate more restrictions.

Health officials who spoke with Bridge Michigan, though, indicated that limits remain a tool for Whitmer’s administration should cases spike. But doing so could be extremely divisive.

No more weekend reporting: Because of the drop in cases, and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer pulling data from states on weekends, Michigan has discontinued its Saturday reporting of COVID-19 data, said Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“We will continue to monitor case rates to determine any future changes to the data schedule,” Sutfin said.

That means Bridge Michigan will no longer update its coronavirus tracker or dashboard on Saturdays unless state officials change their mind. Bridge will continue posting COVID data on weekdays.

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