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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Whitmer reopens Michigan from coronavirus in phases: What that means to you

June 1 update: Gov. Whitmer to allow bars, restaurants, retailers to reopen June 8
May 18: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reopen northern Michigan by Memorial Day weekend

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday announced details of a six-phase economic restart plan and announced that Michigan is already in the third phase because coronavirus case counts are “flattening.”

That means manufacturing firms, which represent approximately 19 percent of the state’s economy, will be permitted to reopen Monday with new workplace safety rules. With Detroit’s Big Three automakers planning to open plants May 18, industry suppliers will have a one-week head start to ramp up production.

The Whitmer administration says future decisions to move to the next phase — allowing more businesses to reopen, either statewide or regionally — will depend on a variety of factors, including:  COVID-19 case numbers, positive test percentages, hospital capacity, personal protection equipment availability, testing capacity and the ability to trace contacts for persons who have tested positive. 

Advancing to the fourth phase, which would allow more retail stores and offices to reopen, could take a “couple of weeks,” Whitmer said. But it “could go faster” if justified by the data. Or “it could be slower if people drop their guard.”

 

The governor had previously said her plan would reopen certain industries by region, and that remains a possibility, she said. But as of now, Whitmer is not relaxing rules any more aggressively in the Upper Peninsula or other parts of the state with fewer coronavirus cases. 

“As we look to the next phases, there certainly could be regional differences,” she said, “and that’s why we wanted to share the thought process. It is not written in stone, but this is the ideal cadence, and the ideal next steps.” 

Restaurant dining rooms and bars would not open until phase five of the governor’s plan, which means carryout only will remain the norm for some time.  Same with education; remote learning will remain the standard until phase five. 

Whitmer’s office said the administration is also establishing work groups to advise the state on how and when to safely restart child care services, summer camps and develop plans for larger venues like sports and music arenas “so that when it is safe, there are best practices established for how to partially open in a low-risk manner.”

The plan is contingent upon Whitmer’s continued ability to issue executive orders in response to the pandemic. Republicans leaders in the Michigan Legislature, who have urged her to speed up business reopenings and allow for regional variations, on Wednesday filed a state lawsuit challenging the governor’s legal authority. 

Regardless of how fast Michigan progresses to the next phase of her recovery plan, get used to wearing face coverings or masks in enclosed public spaces. While violators are not subject to criminal penalty, masks remain required under Whitmer’s new stay-at-home order, which she extended through May 28, and will be either required or strongly recommended until the final “post-pandemic” phase. 

Public health experts say wearing masks in public can protect respiratory systems from COVID-19 by reducing the transmission of infected droplets, and research shows that mask policies are most effective when compliance is high.  

“Michigan, I’m asking you to mask up,” Whitmer said Thursday. “Wearing a mask is how we say thank you to people on the front line,” including grocery store workers, she said. 

Here’s an outline of the six phases, as announced Thursday by the Whitmer administration and modified slightly by Bridge for clarity. As noted above, Michigan is now in Phase Three but could also potentially regress, either statewide or by region, if the state is struck by a second wave. 

PHASE ONE: UNCONTROLLED GROWTH

Businesses and organizations

Retail: Limited to grocery stores and other critical retail (e.g., pharmacies) 

Public transportation: Permitted

Restaurants & bars: Available for take-out, delivery and drive-through only

Manufacturing: Critical manufacturing only

Construction: Only permitted for critical infrastructure projects

Food & Agriculture: Permitted 

Offices: Closed to all non-critical workers

Education & child care: Remote learning in K-12 and higher education, child care for critical workers

Individuals

Social distancing: In place, maintain a six-foot distance from others when outdoors / in public 

Face coverings: Required in enclosed public spaces

Gatherings: Not permitted, except for with members of your own household

Outdoor recreation: Walking, hiking, biking permitted

Quarantine/Isolation: Individuals who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 must isolate, and any individual with a known exposure must quarantine, according to CDC and public health guidance

At-risk populations: All at-risk individuals should continue to shelter in place. Members of households with at-risk residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not possible, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from at-risk residents. Businesses should strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of an at-risk population

PHASE TWO: PERSISTENT SPREAD

Businesses and organizations

Retail: Limited to grocery stores and other critical retail (e.g., pharmacies), plus curbside or delivery for nonessential retail 

Public transportation: Permitted

Restaurants & Bars: Available for take-out, delivery and drive-through only

Manufacturing: Critical manufacturing only

Construction: Only permitted for critical infrastructure projects

Food & Agriculture: Permitted 

Offices: Closed to all non-critical workers during this phase

Education & Child Care: Remote learning in K-12 and higher education, child care for critical workers

Individuals

Social distancing: In place, maintain a six-foot distance from other when outdoors / in public

Face coverings: Required in enclosed public spaces

Gatherings: Not permitted, except for with members of your own household

Outdoor recreation: Walking, hiking, biking permitted. Additional recreation allowed, including golfing and motorboating

Quarantine/Isolation: Individuals who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 must isolate, and any individual with a known exposure must quarantine, according to CDC and public health guidance 

At-risk populations: All at-risk individuals should continue to shelter in place. Members of households with at-risk residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not possible, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from at-risk residents. Businesses should strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of an at-risk population

PHASE THREE: FLATTENING (Where Michigan is at now)

Businesses and organizations

Retail: Limited to grocery stores and other critical retail (e.g., pharmacies), plus curbside or delivery for nonessential retail 

Public Transportation: Permitted

Restaurants & Bars: Available for take-out, delivery and drive-through only

Manufacturing: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines

Construction: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines

Food & Agriculture: Permitted 

Offices: Closed to all non-critical workers

Education & Child Care: Remote learning in K-12 and higher education, child care for critical workers and anyone resuming work activities

Outdoor work: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines

Individuals

Social Distancing: In place, maintain a six-foot distance from other when outdoors / in public

Face coverings: Required in enclosed public spaces

Gatherings: Not permitted, except for with members of your own household

Outdoor Recreation: Walking, hiking, biking, golfing, boating permitted 

Quarantine/Isolation: Individuals who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 must isolate, and any individual with a known exposure must quarantine, according to CDC and public health guidance

At-risk populations: All at-risk individuals should continue to shelter in place. Members of households with at-risk residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not possible, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from at-risk residents. Businesses should strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of an at-risk population

PHASE FOUR: IMPROVING

This phase occurs when the number of new cases and deaths has fallen for a period of time, but overall case levels are still high. When in the Improving phase, most new outbreaks are quickly identified, traced, and contained due to robust testing infrastructure and rapid contact tracing. Health system capacity can typically handle these new outbreaks, and therefore the case fatality rate does not rise above typical levels. Though a community might be in a declining phase, the overall number of infected individuals still indicates the need for distancing to stop transmission and move to the next phase.

Businesses and organizations

Retail: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines (e.g., limited capacity) 

Public Transportation: Permitted 

Restaurants & Bars: Available for take-out, delivery and drive-through only

Manufacturing: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines

Construction: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines

Food & Agriculture: Permitted

Offices: Open (remote work still required where feasible)

Education: Remote learning in K-12 and higher education, summer programs in small groups

Outdoor work: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines

Individuals

Social Distancing: In place, maintain a six-foot distance from other when outdoors / in public 

Face coverings: Required, likely in enclosed public spaces 

Gatherings: Limited to small groups with social distancing

Outdoor Recreation: Walking, hiking, biking, golfing, boating permitted. Activities permitted in small groups with social distancing 

Quarantine/Isolation: Individuals who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 must isolate, and any individual with a known exposure must quarantine, according to CDC and public health guidance

At-risk populations: All at-risk individuals should continue to shelter in place. Members of households with at-risk residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not possible, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from at-risk residents. Businesses should strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of an at-risk population

PHASE FIVE: CONTAINING

During the containing phase, new cases and deaths continue to decrease for an additional period of time. At this point, the number of active cases has reached a point where infection from other members of the community is less common. With widespread testing, positivity rates often fall much lower than earlier phases. Rapid case investigation, contact tracing, and containment strategies cause new cases to continue to fall. However, if distancing and other risk mitigation efforts are not continued, infections could begin to grow again because a permanent solution to the epidemic has not yet been identified.

Businesses and organizations

Retail: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines (e.g., limited capacity) 

Public Transportation: Permitted 

Restaurants & Bars: Available for dine-in with additional safety measures and guidelines 

Manufacturing: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines 

Construction: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines 

Food & Agriculture: Permitted 

Offices: Open with additional safety measures and guidelines 

Education: Live instruction in K-12 and higher education • Outdoor work: Permitted with additional safety measures and guidelines

Individuals

Social Distancing: In place, maintain a six-foot distance from other when outdoors / in public

Face coverings: Required wherever possible 

Gatherings: Increased but still limited-sized groups with social distancing 

Outdoor Recreation: All outdoor recreation allowed 

Quarantine/Isolation: Individuals who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 must isolate, and any individual with a known exposure must quarantine, according to CDC and public health guidance 

At-risk populations: All at-risk individuals should continue to shelter in place. Members of households with at-risk residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not possible, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from at-risk residents. Businesses should strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of an at-risk population

PHASE SIX: POST-PANDEMIC

Reaching this phase would mean community spread is not expected to return due to sufficient community immunity and availability of treatment. Because of this, the number of infected individuals falls to nearly zero and the community does not typically experience this strain of the epidemic returning. All areas of the economy reopen, and gatherings of all sizes resume.

Businesses and organizations 

All businesses and organizations open with some lasting safety requirements 

Individuals

Minimal to no lasting limitations on personal and/or social activities

RESOURCES:

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