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What Whitmer’s new coronavirus order means for Michigan summer plans

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June 5 update: Michigan salons, barbers, gyms to reopen statewide June 15

LANSING — Sign up the kids for day camp, stretch out your spandex for an outdoor fitness class, invite 99 of your closest friends to a cookout and feel the freedom of leaving home without fear of violating government orders.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday lifted her stay-at-home order and announced plans to relax business restrictions across the state amid falling COVID-19 case counts and deaths. 

While the governor warned she could tighten rules again if the state experiences another coronavirus wave, her new executive order marks a turning point in the fight against COVID-19. 

Only a small and shrinking list of businesses remain indefinitely closed in Michigan (no, Karl Manke and other barbers still can’t operate legally) but Whitmer said even those types of services could soon be allowed to resume in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

The governor allowed restaurants, bars and retail shops to open Up North two weeks ago, and a new order signed Monday will do the same for the rest of Michigan.

Here’s a look at what’s allowed — and when — for the entire state. 

IMMEDIATELY

Leave home: Michiganders are no longer required to stay home whenever possible, a policy that had been in place the past 69 days. 

Outdoor group gatherings: “Outdoor social gatherings and events are permitted so long as people maintain 6 feet of distance from one another and the assemblage consists of no more than 100 people,” according to Whitmer’s order. Indoor gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited.

Drive-in movie theaters: While police had moved to shut down some drive-in movie theaters in recent weeks, Whitmer said Monday that her new order allows them to operate legally. 

Outdoor fitness classes: Whitmer’s new order also allows for outdoor fitness classes, athletic practices, training sessions or games — “provided that coaches, spectators, and participants not from the same household maintain six feet of distance from one another at all times during such activities.” Equipment and supplies should be shared “to the minimum extent possible” and should be frequently cleaned and disinfected.

Office work: “Office work that is not capable of being performed at home can resume, but you're still expected to work from home if it is possible,” Whitmer said. 

House cleaning: “House cleaning services and other in-home services can also resume,” Whitmer said.

ALLOWED EVERYWHERE JUNE 4

Retail stores: While grocery stores never closed and other retailers were allowed to reopen by appointment since May 26, Whitmer’s new order will allow all retailers across Michigan to open their doors to customers on Thursday. 

Like shops in northern Michigan already allowed to reopen, retailers that reopen this week must comply with new workplace safety rules, including mandatory face coverings for staff and customers. Smaller retailers with less than 50,000 square feet can only allow 25 percent of their usual shoppers inside at any one time. 

ALLOWED EVERYWHERE JUNE 8

Restaurants, bars and more: Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs can reopen across the state on June 8. 

But just like Up North, downstate restaurants and bars must limit capacity to 50 percent of their normal seating, require 6 feet of separation between tables, ensure employees wear masks and take other safety precautions. Buffets and salad bars must remain closed, which might make for an unusual experience at your local Old Country Buffet.  

Outdoor swimming pools: While southeast Michigan and other communities have already announced indefinite closures of swimming pools, Whitmer’s order allows local governments to reopen outdoor public pools by June 8. Outdoor public pools must limit capacity to 50 percent, and indoor swimming pools must remain closed. 

Day camps: Day camps for kids can reopen June 8, subject to forthcoming guidance from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Overnight camps must remain closed for the time being. It’s not immediately clear when that guidance will be issued. 

Libraries and museums: Libraries and museums may reopen June 8 but must adhere to workplace rules already released for retailers. That means capacity limits, mandatory masks and other safety protocols. 

REQUIRED AT SOME RETAILERS JUNE 15

Bottle returns: Bottle deposit returns, suspended since late March, will also partially resume June 15 under a phase-in plan announced Monday by the Michigan Treasury. Only retailers with dedicated facilities at the front of their store or housed in a separate area and processed by machines will be required to accept bottle returns on that date. 

To avoid a huge rush of customers sitting on piles of bottles, retailers are allowed to limit deposit returns to $25 per day per individual, establish special or limited hours for bottle return facilities, limit the number of machines they use, periodically close bottle return facilities for cleaning and implement other procedures they “determine are necessary or advisable to promote safety and/or efficiency.”

STILL CLOSED, FOR NOW

  • Indoor theaters, cinemas and performance venues
  • Gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, sports facilities, exercise facilities and exercise studios. 
  • Casinos (although some tribal casinos have reopened)
  • Amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, indoor dance areas, skating rinks, trampoline parks “and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities” and other businesses that involve “close contact of persons, for amusement or other recreational or entertainment purposes.”
  • Businesses offering “non-essential personal care services” to customers, including hair, nail, tanning, massage, traditional spa, tattoo, body art and piercing services.

Hair salons and barber shops have emerged as a flashpoint in debate over Whitmer’s COVID-19 orders, largely because of Manke, the defiant barber in Owosso who reopened and refused to close until a court order last week. 

But those services “necessarily involve close contact and shared surfaces” that could facilitate spread of the virus and cannot yet reopen, according to Whitmer’s new order. 

“If you’re like me and you need a haircut separately, a couple more weeks of this and we may be back in a place where we’re able to do that,” Whtimer said Monday. “It’s still going to require protocols. It’s still gonna require every one of us keeping our guard up and doing the right thing.”

If that happens, Whitmer is aiming to give Michiganders back an old freedom by Independence Day: The right to a professional haircut.

“But we’ve got to follow the data,” she said, urging residents who travel to Ohio for a haircut to make sure they take safety precautions to make sure they don’t bring the virus back. “And if you haven’t resorted to that, Google ‘how to do a haircut,’ or throw your hair in a ponytail or curl it and get through the next couple of weeks and we can resume some of these things.”

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