Restaurants in Michigan can put all of their indoor and outdoor seating back in use starting Tuesday, or nine days earlier than the state had projected, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday.
In addition, customers and employees will no longer be required to wear face masks, regardless of their vaccination status, the governor said.
“Today is a day that we have all been looking forward to, as we can safely get back to normal day-to-day activities and put this pandemic behind us,” the Democrat said in a statement. “And we are incredibly thankful to all of the essential workers who kept our state moving.” Restaurant workers were included in that group because of their role in feeding residents while the state was shut down and all residents were advised to shelter at home to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
Whitmer had stated earlier this year that she was aiming to lift most pandemic-related restrictions, including capacity caps on restaurants, on July 1. But falling infection rates and the inoculation of 5 million Michiganders aged 16 or older prompted the governor to announce a new date of June 22.
Washington intends to fully reopen on June 30. New Mexico authorities have indicated that their state will lift all restrictions when 60% of residents have been fully vaccinated, and Hawaii and Oregon will drop its COVID-related limitations when 70% of their populations have been inoculated.
California and New York, two of the nation’s largest restaurant markets, discontinued their capacity restrictions earlier this week.
The rash of reopening announcements comes as restaurant sales rebound to pre-pandemic levels. Federal data show that sales in May of this year topped the level of Feb. 2020, the last full month before the crisis erupted, by 1.6%.
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