Proposed plan would open, shutter Michigan restaurants based on COVID-19 positivity rates

A plan introduced by the GOP-led legislature would base Michigan's reopening on COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations. Subsequently, this means higher rates could lead to indoor dining bans.

Under the proposed strategy, restaurants would currently be closed for indoor dining because the average case positivity rate for the past seven days has been above 15%.

When that average falls below 15%, restaurants would be limited to 25% capacity with a 10 p.m. curfew. They could reopen to 50% with the same curfew when the average is lower than 10%.

"If that was the law now, everything would be closed right now," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said when asked about the plan Monday.

Currently, restaurants can operate at 50%, up to 100 people, with an 11 p.m. curfew. The order that put those limits in place is set to expire next week.

VIEW: Michigan's COVID-19 restrictions

Whitmer argued that looking at just the case rates and hospitalization rates is not the best way to determine when restrictions should be tightened or lifted.

"Identifying one number or two numbers doesn’t tell the whole story. Public health experts will tell you you’ve got to look at the context," she said.

The governor said the context of hospitalizations has been used when making decisions, such as the ages of people being hospitalized for COVID-19 and what their condition is like when in the hospital. 

Last Friday, Whitmer asked for residents to avoid dining inside restaurants rather than ordering a ban on indoor dining.

She has previously said she does not intend to put new restrictions in place. 

However, this week the head of the CDC warned that a shutdown is necessary to slow the virus in Michigan. Whitmer has said vaccines are key to ending the pandemic, but the CDC said the vaccines wouldn't be effective for roughly six weeks, meaning they aren't the best immediate approach.