Michigan sets new restrictions on bars, restaurants, gatherings, as COVID-19 cases surge

COVID-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants in Michigan
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun Photo credit State of Michigan

(WWJ) Expressing concern about the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, state health officials are putting some new restrictions in place.

A new order put into place by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in Thursday does the following:

- Indoor venues without fixed seating must limit gatherings such as weddings and parties to no more than 50 people -- down from a maximum of 500 -- effective immediately.

- Restaurants and bars must seat no more than six people at a table -- effective immediately.

- All dine-in establishments must keep customers' names and phone numbers for contact-tracing purposes -- starting Monday.

Read all the details of the health department's orders HERE.

Michigan's Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun says the positivity rate of tests has increased for the past four weeks, and is now at 5.5%.

All regions of the state are seeing increases in cases, but the number of people hospitalized is going up in Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Health officials are also tracking 446 new or ongoing outbreaks.

“The trends we are seeing are incredibly concerning,” said Khaldun, at a news conference Thursday. “Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all increasing, and unless we all change our behaviors now, that will continue. So we have to avoid indoor gatherings as much as possible. Wear a mask and maintain six feet of distance. If you're still sick, don't go out.”

On Thursday, MDHHS reported 3,675 new confirmed cases, along with 41 deaths. That brings the pandemic totals in Michigan to more than 171,000 cases and related 7,298 deaths

These restrictions from the health department come after recent Michigan Supreme Court rulings left Gov. Gretchen Whitmer powerless to order COVID-19 restrictions on her own. State officials contend that the law the health department acts under to set the rules, different from the one Whitmer used, is not affected by the court's decision.