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Published 5/18/2020
1:39pm

Governor Whitmer Reopens Retail, Restaurants, and Offices in Upper Peninsula, Traverse City Regions

Businesses that reopen must adopt workplace safety measures to protect employees, customers

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Shiawassee News photo

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-92, allowing for the reopening, in two regions, of retail businesses, office work that cannot be done remotely, and restaurants and bars with limited seating. The two regions are both in the northern part of the state—specifically, MERC regions 6 and 8, as detailed in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan to re-engage Michigan’s economy.

The partial reopening will take effect on Friday, May 22. Cities, villages, and townships may choose to take a more cautious course if they wish: the order does not abridge their authority to restrict the operations of restaurants or bars, including limiting such establishments to outdoor seating.  

“This is a big step, but we must all remember to continue doing our part to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “It’s crucial that all businesses do everything in their power to protect their workers, customers, and their families. And as we approach Memorial Day weekend, I encourage everyone to be smart and be safe. My team and I will continue to work around the clock to protect the people of Michigan.”  

“The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “It’s important to note that these businesses must take special precautions to protect Michiganders. I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a 6 foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often. This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state.”  

All businesses that will reopen in regions 6 and 8 must adopt the safety measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-91. That means they must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions. Restaurants and bars will also have to limit capacity to 50% of their normal seating, to keep groups at least six feet from one another, to require their servers to wear face coverings, and to follow rigorous disinfection protocols.  

“We are thankful to Governor Whitmer as today marks an important first step of reintegrating restaurants into the fabric of our daily lives,” said Justin Winslow, President and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. “Restaurants in the U.P. and northern Michigan understand that with their opportunity comes an extraordinary responsibility to operate in a manner that ensures the safety of their guests and their employees. I believe they are up to the challenge.”  

“Like Gov. Whitmer, Mayors in Michigan support the well-being of all our citizens,” said Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers. “All regions of Michigan have been affected by COVID-19, and Up North, we want to support the Governor by cautiously opening up some of our economy resources. However, in doing so, we must be mindful that wearing masks and continuing to practice social distancing is a must to make this work. Stopping the spread of this virus is still key and if we can’t, then we will have to close it down again.”  

“I support the shift to making decisions on a regional level when possible,” said Marquette Mayor Jenna Smith. “As restrictions are slowly eased, it will be important for us to remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus.”  

Region 6 in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan includes the following counties: Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Crawford, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, and Emmet.  

Region 8 in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan includes the following counties: Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Iron, Baraga, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, Delta, Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, and Chippewa. 

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Update 5/17/2020

The State of Michigan has suspended Owosso barber, Karl Manke's license, over his defiance of the Governor's Executive Order restricting the operation of such businesses.  A Dallas Texas salon owner who was jailed for violating a similar order is reportedly traveling to Owosso to show Manke support.  Manke closed temporarily on Friday but said he planned to reopen on Monday.

A Grosse Pointe priest is a social media star after images of him blessing Easter baskets with a squirt gun filled with holy water surfaced online.  St. Ambrose Church posted the images on social media of the Reverand Tim Pelc.

Significant flooding is expected in towns along Lake Michigan as a rain and storm system hovers across much of the state beginning Sunday.  Most of the lower peninsula will receive up to two inches by Tuesday.  Some areas, however, could see as much as four.

Two children were rescued from a burning home in Detroit.  A two and four year old were in the home alone when the fire started.  Thanks to a neighbor's quick 911 call when she heard the home's smoke detectors, firefighters discovered the children upon entry.  The neighbor did not know anyone was in the home.

A rally is planned for Rosa Parks Circle on Monday.  Organizers are unhappy with Governor Whitmer's executive orders.  More than 1,000 people are expected at the event entitled "American Patriot Rally - Sheriffs Speak Out."  Organizers say the intended message is to encourage law enforcement to uphold the constitution.

Two people were rescued when a canoe capsized in the Grand River in Lansing on Saturday.  The pair were stranded on a downed tree.  Delta Township Fire, EMS and Eaton County Sheriffs Department responded.

A customer at a Flint liquor store was shot after engaging in a scuffle with a security guard.  Unhappy with limited access to the store due to COVID-19, the man reportedly struck the guard several times.  After the guard pulled out a gun, the man struck the guard again, causing the weapon to fire.  Police say they believe the bullet ricocheted off the ground before it struck the man in the ankle.

A police chase that began in Mackinac County took officers across the Mackinac Bridge.  The suspect vehicle crashed through the toll gate but continued to run from authorities before the driver lost control and rolled over.  The initial attempt to stop the vehicle was in response to a domestic violence call.  The suspect left the scene with a child.  The child suffered minor injuries in the crash.