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Coronavirus

Restaurants and Bars Can Open in much of Northern Michigan starting Friday

LANSING, Mich. — Restaurants, bars and other retail businesses can open in much of northern Michigan starting Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced in relaxing her stay-at-home restrictions — a key step for the tourism-dependent region before the Memorial Day weekend and summer season.

Bars and restaurants, which have only been able to do pickup and delivery, will have to limit capacity to 50% under Monday’s announcement.

Groups will be required to stay 6 feet apart, and servers will have to wear face coverings. Office business also will be able to resume if work cannot be done remotely.

The governor’s latest order keeps closed other places of public accommodation such as movie theaters, gyms and hair salons in all 83 counties, at least through May 28.

Whitmer called the partial reopening of northern Michigan a “big step,” but urged people to not “go rushing out.” She recommended that residents considering visiting the Upper Peninsula or a 17-county region of the northern Lower Peninsula — which have 7.5% of the state’s 10 million people — to “think long and hard.”

“The whole state is watching to make sure we get this right,” said Whitmer, a Democrat who has been criticized by Republican lawmakers for not earlier restarting sectors by region. “If we get this right, we will be able to take the next step.”

Whitmer also issued an order requiring that businesses resuming in-person work develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and make it available to employees and customers by June 1.

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