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MDHHS issues new COVID-19 restrictions

Published: Nov. 15, 2020 at 2:33 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2020 at 8:45 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced a new emergency order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state of Michigan. The order will last three weeks starting Wendesday, November 18 and will last until December 8.

“In the spring, we listened to public health experts, stomped the curve, and saved thousands of lives together. Now, we must channel that same energy and join forces again to protect our families, frontline workers and small businesses,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Right now, there are thousands of cases a day and hundreds of deaths a week in Michigan, and the number is growing. If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed. We can get through this together by listening to health experts once again and taking action right now to slow the spread of this deadly virus.”

The order shuts down dine-in service at bars and restaurants, suspending organized sports for colleges and high schools, closes casinos, movie theaters, and group exercise classes. Bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery only.

“Restaurants and bars have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic but we understand these new restrictions while painful are necessary to try to flatten the curve and save lives,” said Paola R. Mendivil, owner of El Granjero Mexican Grill, a family-owned restaurant in Grand Rapids.

Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place.

Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, however all other organized sports must stop.

In compliance with the new restrictions, the Michigan High School Athletic Association has suspended its Fall tournaments for girl’s volleyball, girls swimming and diving and football. All winter practices and competitions scheduled to begin over the next three weeks per the emergency order will be put on hold as per the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“We understand the need for action, and we will explore all options to complete our Fall tournaments when restrictions are lifted,” said Executive Director Mark Uyl.

Colleges and high schools may proceed with remote learning, but must end in-person classes.

Today’s order will take effect Wednesday, November 18. The order, according to the Governor’s office, is not a blanket stay-home action like in the spring. The order leaves open work that cannot be performed from home, including for manufacturing, construction and health occupations.

“Indoor gatherings are the greatest source of spread, and sharply limiting them is our focus,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “The order is targeted and temporary, but a terrible loss of life will be forever unless we act. By coming together today, we can save thousands of lives.”

Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.

“We know these restrictions are difficult, but we support them as a necessary step to mitigate the spread of this virus. We have seen firsthand the devastating effects of COVID-19,” said Wright L. Lassiter III, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System.

In-person K-8 learning may continue under this executive order, if it can be done with strong mitigation, including mask requirements, based on discussion between local health and school officials.

“We stand united with Governor Whitmer’s decision to impose additional restrictions to protect Michiganders against the spread of COVID-19,” said Tommey Walker, creator of Detroit vs Everybody. “We are currently making plans to be innovative and pivot as we enter the holiday season. We beat this last time by listening to the public health experts, and we can beat it again. These steps are what the public health experts say we need to take to avoid overwhelmed hospitals and death counts like we saw in the spring. Together we can make a difference. Everybody vs. COVID-19.”

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