What You Need to Know About Michigan’s Three-Week Pause

Gov. Whitmer announced that Michigan will put a pause on social gatherings to curb COVID-19 cases. Here's what you need to know about the "three-week pause."

Short of shutting down the state for another month, on Nov. 15 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered a “pause” on many indoor social gatherings, hoping to re-flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections. The “pause” takes effect Nov. 18.

Small outdoor gatherings of 25 people or less are allowed, but indoor gatherings should be limited to no more than two households and include face mask use, the order says. (This means that Thanksgiving plans may need to be adjusted.)

In March, Whitmer ordered all non-essential retail to be shut down, as well as other services such as gyms, massage parlors and hair salons. The new order allows gyms to remain open for individual instructions, and hair salons, barber shops and other personal services can also remain open. Non-essential retail can also stay open ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The new order also closes high schools and halts the MHSAA sports seasons, though elementary and middle schools can remain open if a district decides to keep in-person learning. All Detroit Public Schools moved to all-remote learning beginning Nov. 16 through Jan. 11.

“Michigan has seen fewer outbreaks associated with elementary and middle schools, and younger children are most in need of in-person instruction,” the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services says in a release.

Museums, libraries and other retail stores that remain open cannot exceed 30% occupancy and should make sure their social distancing markers are visible.

What’s open:

  • Retail (including stores, libraries and museums)
  • Hair Salons, Barber Shops
  • Restaurants and bars for outdoor dining and takeout
  • Two-household gatherings (with high precautions)
  • Preschool-8th Grade (per choice of local district)
  • Childcare
  • Manufacturing, construction and other work that is impossible to do remotely
  • Public transportation
  • Gyms & pools for individual use
  • Professional and NCAA sports without spectators
  • Parks & outdoor recreation
  • Funerals with 25 people or less
  • Health care

What’s closed:

  • In-person learning for high schools, colleges and universities
  • Workplaces where work can be done from home
  • Indoor dining at restaurants and bars
  • Organized (non-professional) sports
  • Theaters, movie theaters, stadiums & arenas
  • Bowling centers, ice skating rinks, indoor water parks
  • Bingo halls, casinos and arcades
  • Group fitness classes

The three-week order is set to expire Dec. 9.

“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,” says Wright L. Lassiter III, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, in the MDHHS release. “The dramatic rise in admissions at hospitals across Michigan is not sustainable. We strongly urge everyone to honor these restrictions and continue safety measures like wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, and practicing social distancing and hand hygiene. Preventing the spread is our collective responsibility and we must be willing to make these sacrifices to save lives of those we love.”


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