Whitmer lifts stay-at-home order, will allow bars and restaurants to open statewide

The office of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declined to comment, saying only that she will have more to say about her economic recovery plan in a 3 p.m. briefing. (Bridge file photo by Dale Young)

November 15: Michigan to close high schools, colleges, bars for 3 weeks as COVID spikes
June 19: Judge: Michigan gyms can reopen Thursday despite Whitmer coronavirus order
June 5 update: Salons to reopen statewide June 15, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday lifted her stay-at-home order, allowed outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people and announced plans to let restaurants, bars and retail stores open across Michigan within the next week.

The move marks a major de-escalation of the state’s fight against COVID-19, the infectious disease that has sickened more than 57,000 Michigan residents since March, but only about 1,000 in the past week despite increased testing. 

Michiganders have lived under broad restrictions since March 24, when Whitmer first restricted personal travel and ordered residents to stay at home whenever possible.

“We've made some sacrifices when it comes to the global pandemic,” Whitmer said of the past 69 days. “We’re seeing our numbers continue to improve, and that is cause for feeling optimistic.”

Effective immediately, Michiganders are allowed to travel anywhere in the state and can gather outdoors in groups of up to 100 people, provided they maintain 6 feet apart from one another. 

Retail stores across the state will be permitted to open for in-person customers on Thursday but will be required to adhere to new capacity limits and safety protocols. 

And beginning June 8, all Michigan restaurant dining rooms and bars can reopen at half capacity. 

Swimming pools and day camps for kids will also be permitted to reopen June 8. Unless local regulations prohibit it, libraries and museums can reopen the same day,subject to capacity limits. 

Whitmer announced similar changes for northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula two weeks ago, but her new order applies to the entire state.

Only a handful of business types remain closed across Michigan, including gyms, hair salons, indoor theaters, tattoo parlors, casinos and “similar establishments,” according to her order, which says activities there “involve close contact and shared surfaces” that could allow the virus to spread.

Sen. Tom Barrett, a Charlotte Republican who has been critical of the governor’s handling of the economy during the pandemic, called news of a partial statewide reopening “overdue but certainly welcome.”

But he urged her to continue relaxing rules. 

“People understand the risk with this now,” Barrett said. “We haven't overrun the health care system, we’ve stocked PPE, we’ve built thousands of ventilators. We can’t continue to keep people locked in their homes forever.”

Whitmer previously reopened manufacturing, construction and outdoor businesses like golf clubs and landscapers statewide. 

And the governor said Monday she may soon allow theaters, indoor gyms and personal service companies to reopen in northern Michigan, indicating she plans to issue another executive order later this week.  

“It will depend on the numbers, of course, and we’ll be watching it closely,” she said. “Local leaders always retain the ability to keep restrictions in place if they think they need them.”

Whitmer also made clear that she could tighten restrictions again if Michigan is hit by a second wave of COVID-19. 

To that point, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, warned the “threat of the disease has not gone away.”

“There's no vaccine. There is no antiviral treatment, and we do not expect to have one for several months,” Khaldun said. “Just one person can still infect many, many more people. So it's incredibly important that businesses open up, they do so in the safest way possible.”

Restaurants and bars allowed to reopen June 8 can allow only 50 percent of their usual customers inside at any one time, must keep six feet of distance between tables and ensure that workers have personal protection equipment like masks. 

Allowing more owners to reopen next week is “huge” and comes “not a moment too soon,” Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, told Bridge Magazine.

“This industry needed this opportunity, and we are appreciative and ready to get back to work.”

Restaurants and bars in northern Michigan accepted a “huge responsibility” by reopening before the rest of the state have been doing well, Winslow said. 

“Even some of the heavy hitters like Short’s [Brewing Company] managed to have huge crowds and manage them safely with distance in-between anyone waiting in line to get in, anyone who is in the restaurant and everyone operating with the proper amount of PPE,” he said.

Retailers that had been allowed to operate by appointment will also face new regulations as they reopen to more in-store customers.  Smaller stores with less than 50,000 square feet will be required to operate at 25 percent capacity, for instance. 

“Retailers in northern Michigan proved that it can be done safely, so we’re glad the rest of the state’s retailers are being given the same chance,” said Meegan Holland, vice president of communications and marketing for the Michigan Retailers Association. 

Whitmer’s new executive order moves the whole state into the fourth phase — “improving” — of the economic recovery plan she developed with a team of business and health care leaders. 

“The data has shown that we’re ready to carefully move our state into this next phase,” the governor said. “We owe it to our frontline heroes to make sure we get this right.”

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Jamie McGee
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 1:55pm

Too little and too late. Hopefully, if she's not impeached or recalled, she won't even THINK of running again for ANY elected office.

Arlene Clark
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:16am

The majority of us appreciate her caution and trust it will continue. All of us can unite in concern for one another by adhering to the protective protocols required as we hopefully inch forward and don’t regress.

Wed, 06/03/2020 - 12:31pm

She's not "adhering" to most anything except her interview to be Joe Bidens vp. Her edicts don't line up with the CDC or almost ANY other state. Why do you think most of the country is open and Michigan isn't? She's an undereducated, uncivic, political hack, her and Trump deserve each other.

Mon, 06/01/2020 - 2:49pm

Typo in the first sentence.

Mon, 06/01/2020 - 5:01pm

It would be nice if the article were updated with a link to the exact executive order issued.

Kevin Grand
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 5:38pm

And I'm absolutely certain that the ANTIFA protestors rioting and burning cities around Michigan had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the governor's decision.

George Hagenauer
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:34am

Note Minnesota has documented that white probably Militia or similar right wing groups started based on labels on vehicles and clothing at least some of the fires there during the riots. One friend of mine lost his store completely the other had his trashed. My guess is neither will reopen as both were bookstores that had operated for 40 or more years each.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:19am


Tue, 06/02/2020 - 11:06am

Besides rioters, who feels like going out to eat? Who has the money to blow?

Doby Joe
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 6:12pm

Although this decision comes a month too late to save the thousands that Whitmer likely killed (through increased suicide, delayed cancer screenings, surgeries missed, drug and alcohol abuse up, etc), at least Whitmer finally got around to doing the right thing. She might have been the last horse to cross the finish line, but at least she finally did, so good for her.

Linaka Law
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:55am

@Doby Joe. You're misinformed about necessary surgeries and cancer screenings and treatment. As someone who has a spouse w cancer, I can assure that treatments and screening has continued. My caregivers support group has added more members during the last 2 months who have loved ones who had screening in March and April. Unfortunately, even though there were mental health resources made available, some people did not reach out. You can't blame the governor any more than you can blame friends and family members for suicide and substance abuse. I commend the governor for making tough choices and keeping my young child from possibly becoming an orphan.

Doby Joe
Tue, 06/09/2020 - 9:16am

Linaka, that's great for you- but the world is not based around you and your personal experience does not encapsulate reality. There is lots of evidence of delayed cancer screenings and postponed treatment. I searched these terms and these are the first couple articles that popped up-

Educate yourself. There is reality out there.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:06am

I keep reading about these mysterious deaths but no one has yet provided ANY actual data on this. We do have data on how many people have died due to COVID - over 100,000 in the US and 5,500 in MI in 3 months . I ask yet again (and again) - please provide links to actual data which documents these "thousands' of people who have died in last 3 months because they stayed home to avoid COVID. Please provide links to credible sources.

I also hope that with opening that virus has been informed not to attack anyone at a pool, child's camp, restaurant, in an outdoor event that has fewer than 100 people. BTW, a report from the Trinity College of London released today states that reducing social distancing from 2 meters (6.5 feet) down to 1 meter apart (3.3 feet) results in a 50% more liklihood of contracting COVID. I wonder how participants in a camp or swimmers in a pool will be able to remain 6.5 feet apart at all times. I understand the political pressure the governor is under, but opening up is a health issue and is a major mistake.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 11:09am

Funny how you think Whitmer causes depression. Have you noticed the shameful behavior of the president since his election or electoral college appointment? If not, have you at least noticed his behavior over the last week? By the way, you're not "Bobby Joe" anymore?

Todd Priest
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 5:47pm

She killed my neighbor via putting COVID patients in her nursing home.

jan d
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:04am

The governor's reasons for not allowing hair salons and barber shops to open is pure foolishness. I feel so sorry for those businesses.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:04am

Way too little and way too late, I just want to get a “damn” haircut!

The only thing she has in her mind is becoming Biden’s VP

Linaka Law
Wed, 06/03/2020 - 11:43am

Everyone wants a haircut, but there are priorities. Flint still needs clean water. If you want a haircut so bad go to a state where you can get one. It comes with a side of covid.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:36am

We are showing all the right signs for a soft re-opening. Great job Madame Governor. Leadership instead of what we are seeing from the White House - no leadership, chaos and a decided creep toward fascism.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:44am

"we’ve stocked PPE, we’ve built thousands of ventilators." We're still way behind on the PPE front, and it turns out ventilators are only marginally helpful. I used to be able to walk into Lowes and buy a box of 3M N95 masks for sanding for about $20. You can't get those for love or money now. Maybe Sen. Barrett has stocked up...

George Hagenauer
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:59am

In our never ending clash of ideologies over this no one ever looks at Washington State where things ran differently probably for a number of factors. For my own information I have kept data on COVID since March 30th at that point Washington State was third highest in the nation today it is 21st with a relatively low death rate that is dropping as percentage of cases as oppose to rising as it is in most parts of the country. (expect even as cases decline the number and percentage of deaths might rise) So what did Washington State do differently? Major employers with lots of employees who could work from home issued their own stay at home orders before the governor did. An the lockdown started earlier in the state. Given they had one of the earliest nursing home deaths - my guess is they acted quickly in that arena also. What this shows is when businesses are not immediately in conflict with the political leadership and both pay attention to health experts - things move quickly and problems get solved. The Michigan chamber here is like the equivalent business organization in Wisconsin - ideological and basically driven by a specific funding base and agenda. If you look at the decline in Wisconsin over the past 2 decades and current problems here - the power in a handful of well funded lobbyists attached to the business community coordinating with an extreme agenda driven not by data but by a handful of rich donors who largely are detached from the day to day reality of the average citizen is a key part of the problem.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 5:46pm

Make as much as you can of it and make as much money as you can too because this is going to happen again right before the election. Count on a few states being shut down in Oct-Nov(swing states) in an attempt to rig the election.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:00pm

Gov. Whitmer has done a great job by trying to keep MI safe and this virus contained. The same people that are complaining about stupid stuff like opening hair salons, barbers, or other non essential businesses are the same people that would be complaining if this virus was out of control in MI. So which one do you want? More deaths or a damn haircut

Wed, 06/03/2020 - 10:41am

Imagine that! Feds say she's in the wrong and she backpedaled. As always. Thank god for federal oversight of her because we'd still be imprisoned in our homes if not for the federal ag sending investigators.

M Wilkie
Wed, 06/03/2020 - 2:01pm

The Whitmer / Nessel "legacy":

● 05/23/2020 W3P: Dana Nessel: Michigan’s Mask Detective
● 05/23/2020 Detroit News: Nessel disputes claim that state litigation played role in Edenville Dam's failure
● 05/22/2020 Bridge MI: Dana Nessel and Enbridge argue Line 5 pipeline shutdown to Michigan judge
● 05/22/2020 PJ Media: Ignoring Warnings, Mich. AG Sued to RAISE Lake Level Ahead of Dam Break—to Protect Mussels
● 05/22/2020 Michigan Capitol Confidential: Michigan AG Nessel: Ford Plant May Have To Close Because Trump Visited Without Face Mask
● 05/22/2020 NPR: Michigan AG Says She 'Will Not Remain Silent' As Trump Risks Public Health
● 05/21/2020 Twitter, Donald Trump: : Do nothing A.G. of the Great State of Michigan, Dana Nessel, should not be taking her anger and stupidity out on Ford Motor - they might get upset with you and leave the state, like so many other companies have - until I came along and brought business back to Michigan. JOBS!
● 05/21/2020 Daily Wire: Trump Defies Democrat Michigan AG On Wearing Facemask; She Unloads, Threatens Ford
● 05/16/2020 Michigan Capitol Confidential: Michigan AG Dana Nessel Says Rebel Barber 'Not A Hero,' 'Not A Patriot'
● 05/12/2020 Think America: AG Dana Nessel Asked To Resign After Her Racially Loaded Comments Go Viral
● 05/11/2020 MSN: AG Dana Nessel insists guns can be banned from Michigan Capitol in formal opinion
● 05/01/2020 Washington Times: Michigan AG shreds 'selfish' elderly barber who reopened shop: 'He's not a hero,' 'not a patriot'
● 04/22/2020 Click On Detroit: AG Nessel urges FDA to further ease restrictions on LGBTQ blood donors during COVID-19 pandemic
● 04/21/2020 NBC News, WoodTv 8: AG: Mislabeled face masks a public safety concern
● 04/20/2020 Fox News, West Michigan 17: AG Nessel sends cease-and-desist letter to landscaper to stop non-essential operations
● 04/17/2020 Traverse Ticker: Dana Nessel's Office Responds To Local Sheriffs Protesting Whitmer's Order
● 04/16/2020 Arab American News: Car wash owner warned by Nessel and Worthy for violating stay home order
● 04/13/2020 American Thinker: Dana Nessel's struggle with white people
● 04/09/2020 NBC News, WILX 10: Nessel: Not enough being done to help Michigan's African Americans
● 03/24/2020 Detroit Free Press: Report stay-at-home order violators to local law enforcement, AG's office says
● 03/17/2020 Detroit Free Press: AG Dana Nessel warns Menards over alleged price gouging
● 03/15/2020 Crain's Detroit Business: Nessel to bar owners: Curtail St. Patrick's Day crowds or lose license
● 02/14/2020 The Hill: First openly gay Michigan AG wishes Limbaugh happy Valentines Day with photo kissing wife
● 01/23/2020 Detroit News: Opinion: Attorney General Dana Nessel must not weaponize her office
● 01/18/2020 Tennessee Star: Attorney General Dana Nessel Joins Lawsuit Over SNAP Benefits
● 01/17/2020 LifeSiteNews: Michigan attorney general using secretive ‘hate crime unit’ to harass pro-marriage group
● 01/16/2020 Thomas More Law Center: Exposed – Michigan AG Dana Nessel’s Tyrannical Tactics to Suppress Religious Belief in Traditional Marriage – TMLC Lawsuit
● 11/01/2019 Michigan Freedom Fund: If a Democrat Destroys Public Records and Dana Nessel is AG, Did it Ever Really Happen?
● 10/14/2019 Energy News: Michigan AG focuses on clean energy, ratepayer support in shift for office
● 09/26/2019 Bridge MI: Judge slams Dana Nessel in gay adoption case for ‘targeted attack’ on religion
● 09/05/2019 Crain's Detroit Business: AG Dana Nessel files motions for intervention, temporary restraining order in Epicurean Group case
● 06/14/2019 NPR, WDET: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel Explains Dropping Charges in Flint Water Crisis Case
● 05/30/2019 M-Live: Catholic priest vows lawsuit against AG Nessel after his counseling license suspended
● 04/30/2019 Macomb Daily: Michigan AG: I'll move to shut oil pipeline if talks fail
● 03/20/2019 Fash the Nation: Michigan to Create Thought Criminal Database: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has announced plans to create a “hate crime” unit in order to track Michigan residents who disagree with the official government ideology, the Detroit News reports.
● 02/26/2019 Governing: In Role as New Michigan AG, Dana Nessel Reversing 16 Years of GOP Ideology
● 02/22/2019 Detroit News: Nessel, civil rights unit to increase prosecution of hate crimes
● 11/07/2018 Forward: ‘I Don’t Have A Penis’ Jewish Lesbian Wins In Michigan
● 10/02/2018 Catholic League: Dana Nessel’s Anti-Catholicism
● 09/17/2018 Associated Press: Leonard: Nessel ‘unfit’ to be AG due to abusive campaign
● 05/29/2018 Bridge MI: Michigan Attorney General candidate Dana Nessel attacked by her own words: ● “I will sue the Trump administrfation, all day, every day.” ● “How about shutting down all these scam pregnancy crisis centers.” ● “I am not going to defend unconstitutional laws that are passed by the state legislature.” ● “I would like to go back to a time in our nation…where it was not legal to have assault weapons.” ● “I will absolutely not cooperate with federal authorities.” ● “Jeff Sessions, I think when he was a kid, like his father beat him with a marijuana leaf or something. ● “Have a good day, I love you, try not to get murdered at school today.”