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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Restaurants, wedding venues ready to open with loosened COVID-19 restrictions

Posted at 6:57 AM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 06:57:58-04

(WSYM) — Michigan's reopening plan looks a lot different this morning, with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer moving to a two-step approach ending COVID-19-related restrictions.

On June 1, all outdoor gathering restrictions will end and indoor gatherings will be at 50% capacity. Then, on July 1, the face masks and gatherings order will be lifted.

That is big news for businesses heading into the summer season with concerts, weddings and much more.

“250 weddings a year we do here. And you’ve got brides calling every day wondering hows something changed, has something changed," Paul Wegert, the managing director at The Inn at St. John's, said.

The previous 4-step Vacc to Normal Plan which tied reopening milestones to vaccination rates, but that's out with the new two-step plan.

“I’ve talked to enough of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and everyone had to move quickly to give some clarity and make the state rules sing on the same page as the CDC guidelines. And that's what we're doing," Whitmer said.

Adam Merkel, who owns several restaurants, said he's used to learning new rules and has had a lot of practice.

“We have to call audibles every other week just to make sure we’re providing a safe environment for our staff, for our guests, and ultimately still able to be in business," he said.

One of his restaurants, Pinky's Rooftop in Royal Oak, just reopened on Wednesday.

He welcomes June's loosened capacity limits for indoor dining to 50%. Previously, it was 50% but no more than 100 people, whichever was smaller. He's just not sure it will be enough for his bottom line.

“Even 85% capacity really for a restaurant isn't quite enough to be profitable," Merkel said.

Restaurants and wedding venues alike continue to battle another problem – the labor shortage.

Weger normally staffs around 350, but now, has only 110 employees.

What about graduation ceremonies held after June 1? We've reached out to a number of districts and they are still working on details based on the new options.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help businesses and restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

Also, get information about Rebound Mid Michigan, with stories, information, and more about coming back from COVID-19

Join the Rebound Mid Michigan Facebook Group.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.