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Indoor gyms and non-contact sports to resume, no indoor dining until February

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Indoor gyms will be allowed to re-open and non-contact sports can resume under a new Department of Health and Human Services order – as long as mask and distancing protocols are followed. That will take effect Saturday.

But indoor dining at restaurants is still not allowed.Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday that indoor dining at restaurants won't resume until at least February 1. She said dining rooms would still have to adopt COVID-19 safety protocols – including masks, curfews, and distancing.

The ban has been in place since mid-November. Whitmer said re-engagement won’t work without the confidence of consumers and workers.

“It’s important that we get this right," she said. "We want to ensure that consumers, customers, workforce alike know that when the reengagement occurs that they’re going to be safe. That’s crucial.”

Whitmer said restaurant re-openings could be further delayed depending on the spread of COVID-19 cases. MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said the state is on track to lift the ban by February 1 -- but that could change depending on the spread of COVID-19 cases.

“Now is not the time to let down our guard.," Gordon said. "Our actions on February 1 will depend on what happen with the pandemic between now and then.”

Gordon said he’s concerned about a new, faster-spreading strain of the coronavirus that has not yet reached Michigan.

Republicans in the Legislature expressed frustration with the continuation of the indoor dining ban. The Senate GOP is threatening to reject Whitmer nominations unless the ban is lifted.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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