"We're confident that in some regions of the state, they've just not been hit as hard with COVID-19 and they are in a better position to begin phasing in sectors of their economy and enter the improving phase of my safe start plan. That would be phase four. So today I signed an executive order that loosened some restrictions in MERC (Michigan Economic Recovery Council) regions 6 and 8, also known as the Upper Peninsula and the Greater Traverse City area."
"Starting Friday at 12:01 a.m., to be exact, people in those regions can reopen retail businesses, restaurants and bars with limited seating. So this is a new way of dining, but we're gonna be very careful and we're going to engage slowly."
"We're pleased that we're at the stage at this point in time. Honestly, wasn't quite sure how to game it out exactly when we would see these numbers. But these numbers give us reason to have confidence we can take this action."
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that retail businesses in much of northern Michigan, including restaurants and bars, can reopen starting Friday.
The bars and restaurants will have to limit their capacity to 50 percent. Groups will be required to stay 6 feet apart and servers will have to wear face coverings.
Office work also will be able resume if work cannot be done remotely.
The move will affect two of the eight regions identified in the governor's gradual reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic: one covers the Upper Peninsula and another includes 17 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula, including Traverse City.
The area is a tourist destination and home to downstate residents' second homes and cottages.