Restaurant ban extended to February 1

Group fitness classes and non-contact sports can resume Saturday.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on Wednesday that the state’s health department ban on indoor dining will be extended until February 1. Meanwhile, restrictions on group fitness classes and non-contact sports will expire Friday night.

What Happened: State health officials originally banned indoor dining as well as in-person classes, movie theaters, and gyms in a statewide order on November 18. Since then, those bans have been lifted save for the one on indoor food service.

Robert Gordon, the director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said indoor dining poses the most risk in terms of spreading COVID-19.

“Indoor dining brings risks because it involves taking off masks,” he said.

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Meanwhile, bans on other activities are being allowed to expire.

“The new order allows group exercise and non-contact sports, always with masks and social distancing, because in the winter it’s not as easy to get out and exercise and physical activity is important for physical and mental health,” said Gordon.

Blowback: Restaurant owners and industry groups are not happy about the extension. The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association said many restaurant owners will be forced to shut down for good.

“So many of them are at wit’s end,” said MRLA President and CEO Justin Winslow. “They’re so frustrated at the lack of clarity or justification for what’s going on right now.”

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