LANSING, Mich. — COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan officially lifted on Tuesday allowing residents to return to normal activities ahead of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s original schedule.
Residents are allowed to go mask-free in public spaces, whether or not they are vaccinated, and both indoor and outdoor capacity limits will rise to 100%.
Originally Whitmer outlined plans to lift COVID-19 mandates on July 1, 2021. However, dramatically lower case rates and a steady, if slowing, vaccination rate across the state made officials comfortable to accelerate the plans.
“And today is an exciting, happy, joyful moment,” said Whitmer at a press conference Tuesday. “This is an exciting announcement that we are now dropping the [epidemic] orders. Effective today there is no more mass or gathering order, effective today there are no more capacity limits indoors or outdoors, effective today our pure Michigan. Summer is back and we can realize it.”
Although restrictions helped to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, Michelle Rahl says they also had a sometimes devastating impact on local business.
“The effects of the pandemic for some businesses were very swift and very, very severe,” she said. “It really ranged in a variety of different ways. Obviously the lost customers, the lost revenue, but all of those restrictions also really impacted the ability for a lot of businesses to have customers in and out of their doors.”
Businesses were forced to adapt to the changes, try to continue reaching customers, or close up shop.
The accelerated timeline and lifted restrictions are welcome news for businesses across mid-Michigan.
Ryan Patterson who works as a trainer at M43 Fitness in DeWitt explained he’s most excited to see fitness classes back at full capacity.
“The mornings are always a great atmosphere, not only in DeWitt but in the Lansing location too,” Patterson said.
M43 Fitness went through rolling closures over the last year as it worked to comply with government shutdown orders. The fitness center closed for more than six months.
“It had a pretty big impact on not only our members, staff, and everyone in the community,” he said. “But we’re very happy and thankful to be reopened and kind of moving full steam ahead.”
Restaurants also took a major hit during the height of the pandemic. According to data compiled by the Wall Street Journal, by July 2021 Michigan lost a total of 569 restaurants and was 7th in the nation for most eateries lost.
Justin Bowler who is the manager of Midtown Brewing Company explained that the local favorite had to shut down multiple times during the pandemic.
“We tried to-go food for a while usually for about a week after each shutdown but after that, we just switched to closed until we were able to open completely,” he said.
Midtown had to adapt and invest in making changes to their business like creating outdoor seating.
“It offered a lot of seating since people were nervous about coming inside and it added more capacity,” he said.
Bowler explained that he feels cautiously hopeful about the rollback of COVID-19 restrictions in the state. After experiencing a year of rolling closures he said he was hesitant to celebrate too soon.
“You want to believe that we've weathered the storm, that we're through it. But on the other hand, we don't want to get too excited just in case we're between the waves,” Bowler said.
Despite the broad restrictions lifting some orders will remain in place. Restrictions like mask mandates and capacity limits will stick around for correctional facilities, hospitals, and for work with homeless individuals.
Additionally, it is recommended that residents who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear face masks in crowded indoor or outdoor settings and in residential care facilities.
Watch the entire press conference
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