Advance Notice: Briefs

Bars, gyms, theaters can’t reopen until May 28 under new order

By: - May 1, 2020 11:15 am

Susan J. Demas

Public places like theaters, bars, gyms and casinos will be closed through May 28 after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday night extended a previous order aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.

The new order was issued after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on Thursday reported more than 41,000 cases and 3,700 deaths due COVID-19.

While Michigan is beginning to see a statewide plateau in COVID-19 cases, Whitmer said the state isn’t out of the woods yet, and residents need to continue following social distancing guidelines and limiting in-person interactions to slow the spread.

“Extending this order is vital to the health and safety of every Michigander. If we work together and do our part, we can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Whitmer.

The order doesn’t apply to providers of medical equipment and supplies, health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities, warehouse and distribution centers, industrial or manufacturing facilities, office buildings, grocery stores, food pantries, pharmacies and drug stores.

Last week, Whitmer issued an order requiring all businesses to provide their employees with non-medical grade face coverings if they work with the public, and requires all Michiganders who can medically tolerate wearing a homemade face mask to do so when in enclosed public spaces. 

In a different order , Whitmer outlined strategies that grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies must take to reduce the possibility of exposing their customers to COVID-19.

The strategies include requiring cashiers to wear some form of face covering over their nose and mouth, ensuring employees and customers stay at least 6 feet apart from one another, closing salad bars and eliminating free samples and tasting stations, and setting aside at least two hours per week of shopping time for vulnerable populations, like seniors, people who are pregnant or immunocompromised.

Stores are now also required to clean and disinfect frequent touchpoints like PIN pads at cash registers, shopping carts and shopping baskets, as well as prohibit sick employees from working and sending them home if they show symptoms of COVID-19. 

The order allows restaurants to fill takeout orders and deliver them to customers, provide window service, drive-through service, or drive-up service if employees wear face covers and social distancing is enforced among employees.

In addition, only five customers are allowed in a restaurant at a time to pick up orders, and they must stay 6 feet apart from one another.

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Madeline Ciak
Madeline Ciak

Madeline Ciak is a former Michigan Advance reporter. She’s a University of Michigan-Flint graduate and previously worked as a digital media manager at NBC25/FOX66 in Flint and a weekend producer at ABC12.