Restaurants expected to reopen in February despite new COVID strain

State health officials say they will let restaurants resume business even as a new, virulent strain of COVID reaches Michigan.

Earlier this week, Michigan medical workers made a worrying discovery – a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 is in the state. That could lead to a surge of new infections akin to what happened in the months after the strain was discovered in the U.K.

Nonetheless, state health officials say they are still likely to allow restaurants and bars to reopen for indoor service on February 1.

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The Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Robert Gorden told reporters on Wednesday that measures of the coronavirus in Michigan indicate that things are getting better, and they’re likely to continue with the current timeline on reopening.

“The trends continue so that remains the plan,” he said. “While restaurants will reopen that day, there will remain risk associated with indoor dining.”

Health officials are looking at three specific measures of the spread of COVID-19 in making their determination: New infection numbers, hospitalizations, and the rate of positive coronavirus tests. All three measures have been improving or at least not getting worse over the past few weeks.

As of Wednesday, the state is averaging 1,977 new cases of COVID-19 per day – that’s more than 5,000 cases fewer than at the peak of the fall wave of infections in November. Hospitalizations have been decreasing since December. The state’s positivity rate has also been declining, reaching 6.45% on Tuesday.

You can read more on Bridge Michigan.

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