Michigan lifts indoor dining ban with new restrictions, stadiums can seat up to 500 people

After months of closures, indoor dining will resume in Michigan restaurants and bars, beginning Feb. 1. 

The Michigan health department's next epidemic order allows the sale and consumption of concessions at restaurants, casinos, movie theaters, and stadiums. It also maintains non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. 

The next order will last three weeks until Feb. 21.

The new rules include a 25% capacity restriction on restaurants and bars up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are allowed. 

A curfew measure of 10 p.m. will also be enacted and contact tracing efforts will be in effect. 

After declines in several metrics, including a 70% reduction in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per million, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said it was time to reopen restaurants. 

"The pause has worked. The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and hospitals have dramatically reduced cases and we have saved lives," said Whitmer in a press release.

Justin Winslow, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association president welcomed the "overdue news."

"It is now time for this administration to move aggressively towards a more comprehensive reintegration strategy, which includes prioritizing vaccination for the broader hospitality industry and establishing clear metrics for phased reopening to 100 percent capacity of indoor dining," he said in a statement.

Indoor dining has been closed in Michigan as COVID-19 cases have spiked over the past two months.

In addition to the declines in cases per million rates, the hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients is at 9.9% and the positivity rate is at 6.8%.

"We are pleased to see the improvements in case rates, hospitalizations, and percent positivity that have allowed us to reopen more activities," said Khaldun.

The health department's order also continues a temporary ban on contact sports indoors. It also allows stadiums to seat 500 people in venues with a capacity of 10,000 people. Stadiums that seat less than 10,000 are allowed to be at 20% or up to 250 people. 

The state has also started a certification program for establishments to get their ventilation systems inspected and optimized for airflow. More efficient ventilation systems have been shown to reduce infection rates in indoor settings.

Once certified, the MI COVID-19 Safer Dining program will feature restaurants that have received a certification.