Whitmer loosens Covid rules on dining, bars, casinos, gyms and sports

March 02, 2021, 3:35 PM

Most nursing home visits can resume and restaurants can fill half their seats, starting Friday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced those Covid safety order revisions and others Tuesday afternoon. The indoor dining limit rises from 25-percent capacity now, and more people will be allowed in stores, theaters, bowling alleys and other indoor gatherings. 

"As we continue our vaccine rollout and make steady progress against the virus, we are taking additional incremental steps to re-engage," the governor says in a statement before a televised announcement.

During that live event, according to a tweet by Dave Boucher of the Detroit Free Press, she said: "We must and we will become the state that beat the damn virus."

Visits to extended care faciities, such as nursing homes, are allowed if the site hasn't had a new Covid case in the previous 14 days. Guests over 13 will be screened with rapid antigen tests, and each resident can't have more than two visitors at a time.

(Graphics: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)

Masks still are required there and at all other public places.

Here's what else changes under guidelines in effect for at least six weeks, from Friday through April 19:

  • Restaurants and bars can't have more than 100 patrons and must close by 11 p.m., an hour later than the current dining curfew. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people at each.

  • Retail shops can reach 50% indoor capacity, up from 30%.

  • Indoor public events can have up to 25 people. This applies to council meetings, lectures and other small gatherings.

  • Outdoor public gatherings can resume with up to 300 people.

  • Movie theaters, bowling alleys and other inside entertainment sites can boost indoor capacity to 50%, up to 300 people.

  • Casinos can function at 30% capacity.

  • Gyms also are limited to 30% capacity, with workout machines spaced at least six feet apart.

  • Residential gatherings are capped at 15 people inside or 50 outdoors.

Big sporting events and concerts still are sharply restricted, even outside. Indoor stadiums and arenas with room for up to 10,000 people can allow only 375 fans. If the seating capacity is above 10,000, 750 can enter.

Outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities can host up to 1,000 people -- so Opening Day at Comerica Park on April 1 could be very odd. The stadium can fill only 2.5% of its seats. That's just 12% of the pre-pandemic capacity at the team's Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla.

Not exactly a reason for joy in Tigertown.

The state posts this visual summary:

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