Michigan Gov. Whitmer says not to gather with others this Christmas

As Michigan's COVID-19 cases appear to be leveling off, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it won't matter what happens over the next two weeks before Christmas - people shouldn't gather to celebrate the holiday.

During a press conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Whitmer announced the extension of the COVID-19 pause implemented in mid-November. She extended the pause for another 12 days Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Dr. Robert Gordon explained what it would take to reopen businesses at the end of those 12 days. 

It's currently set to end on Dec. 20, just five days before Christmas but Whitmer says no matter how good the progress is, people should not gather. 

"No matter what we show in the next 12 days, I am discouraging people from gathering for Christmas. It doesn't mean we cancel Christmas, it means we celebrate in a responsible way and we make our plan, now," Whitmer said. "If our numbers come down a good amount, it still doesn't mean COVID is gone by Christmas."

Whitmer said people should find ways to be together in spirit.

Additionally, Whitmer said if people want to have a Christmas in 2021 as they did in 2019, people need to be smart in 2020.

"This year's (celebration) has to be smart. This year's (celebration) has to be celebrating at home with the people with whom you live," she said. "That remains the safest thing to do: celebrate Christmas apart and find different ways to be together in spirit."

Whitmer said she knows it's hard to do and does not want to minimize the challenge but that it is essential this year. 

RELATED: Michigan leaders explain what it will take to lift COVID-19 restrictions