Michigan orders restaurants to end indoor dining; high schools and colleges to pause in-person classes

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks at Beech Woods Recreation Center, in Southfield, Mich., Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration on Sunday ordered high schools and colleges to stop in-person classes, closed restaurants to indoor dining and stopped organized sports in a bid to curb Michigan’s spiking coronavirus cases.

The restrictions will begin Wednesday and last three weeks. They are not nearly as sweeping as when the governor issued a stay-at-home order last spring, but they are extensive.

An order written by the state health department also limits indoor residential gatherings to no more than two households, restricts outdoor gatherings to 25 people and closes entertainment facilities such as theaters, bowling alleys and indoor water parks. Gyms and pools can stay open for individual exercise but not group classes.

The move came as the state faces surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed,” Whitmer said. “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.”

Robert Gordon, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said “indoor gatherings are the great source of spread, and sharply limiting them is our focus.”


Whitmer also addressed the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday: “We know that some people will gather anyway. And odds are that some of these gatherings will spread COVID and contribute to the loss of loved ones.”

The pandemic has sickened more than 54 million people across the globe since it began, and has killed more than 1.3 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. leads the world in confirmed cases — with more than 11 million — and a death toll of more than 246,000.

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