GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After being closed for nearly seven months, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says several types of businesses, including movie theaters, may reopen statewide Oct. 9.
Other business that can reopen under an executive order signed Friday by Whitmer include performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities and trampoline parks.
The governor’s order also increases the capacity limit for public indoor spaces to 20 per 1,000 square feet or 20% of fixed seating capacity for most of the state. Businesses in the Upper Peninsula and parts of the northern Lower Peninsula may have 25 people per 1,000 square feet or 25% of capacity. In all regions, the maximum cap will be 500 at any venue. Masks will be required.
Public outdoor gatherings may now have 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30% of fixed seating capacity, with a cap of 1,000.
Businesses must have safety guidelines in place for workers.
The changes also mean that funerals may now be attended by more than the 10-person limit previously in effect for much of the state.
Whitmer has moved more slowly and cautiously than many other states in reopening the economy. A Democrat, she is being sued by the Republicans in charge of the state Legislature over her handling of the virus response — specifically over her unilateral decision to extend a state of emergency. There is also a petition gathering signatures that would eliminate the law that gives her the emergency powers behind her executive orders.
Whitmer told News 8 Thursday that the state of emergency is still necessary but promised it won’t last forever.
“We’re probably a matter of months” from letting it expire, she said.
She also defended her executive orders, saying they have been crucial in slowing the spread of the virus and have therefore put Michigan in a better position that many other states in terms of the state of the outbreak and in terms of economic recovery.
“Michigan took some of the most aggressive action against COVID-19 in the country, and as a result, the health of our families and our economy are faring better than our neighbors in other states. As a result, we are now able to reopen movie theaters and performance venues with strict safety measures in place. I know these business owners have made incredible sacrifices during this crisis to protect our families and frontline workers, and my administration will continue working to help them get back on their feet,” Whitmer said in Friday statement. “We are not out of the woods yet, and we will continue to monitor the effects of these incremental changes. Right now, the federal government and all 50 states have been under some form of state of emergency. We must stay the course and continue fighting this virus on behalf of our families, frontline workers, and our small businesses.”
The governor also signed an order Friday requiring all K-12 students in most of the state to wear masks. Masks were previously recommended but not required for kindergarten through fifth grades. The updated order goes into effect Oct. 5.
Also Friday, the Mid-American Conference, which includes Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan universities, announced the fall football season would resume Nov. 4.