State to relax restaurant, business COVID-19 restrictions starting Friday

Many of the restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 will be eased under a new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services order that will take effect Friday.

Restaurants and bars will be able to operate at 50 percent of capacity, up from 25 percent, though the 100-person cap from the previous order remains in place. The current 10 p.m. curfew will be moved to 11 p.m. for dine-in service.

The state also will relax the limit on indoor gatherings at private residences, which has been capped at 10 people for most of the pandemic. The state eased that restriction a bit prior to Thanksgiving to allow up to two households to gather indoors with a limit of 10 people. That limit will rise to 15 people from three different households.

Retail stores will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity. The previous order capped retailers to 30 percent of capacity.

Whitmer on Tuesday is also expected to announce that outdoor gatherings with up to 300 people may resume, and an increased indoor capacity for movie theaters, bowling alleys, athletic stadiums, casinos and gyms.

The governor said nursing homes will open to visitors with negative COVID-19 tests.

A variety of other capacity increases will be unveiled as well during Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic update scheduled for 2 p.m. today.

The move comes after in-person dining resumed Feb. 1 at 25 percent capacity. That was ordered to stay in place until March 29.

Relaxing the restrictions is in line with improving COVID-19 trends in Michigan. The state during the pandemic has pointed to three benchmarks: COVID-19 case rates, positive test rates and hospital capacity, all of which have been falling .

As vaccinations have increased, the number of COVID-related deaths has decreased.