by Scott McClallen
Michigan surpassed a milestone of injecting 50% of residents ages 16 and older with a first vaccine, but is still roughly 1.6 million people short of hitting the goal needed to drop all restrictions.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out the plan last week.
The state must reach 55% of Michiganders ages 16 and older, or another 408,594 people, plus two weeks to reach complete immunity for the Whitmer administration to allow in-person work for all business sectors statewide.
“Today, Michigan will surpass seven million doses administered of the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We’ve put shots in arms of 1 in 2 Michiganders 16 and up and over 1 in 3 are fully vaccinated, including 2 in 3 seniors. Our rollout continues to speed up. We administered six million doses in just over four months.”
Whitmer encouraged residents to get vaccinated and to follow safety protocols so Michigan can get back to normal by summer.
When the state hits 60%, which would require injecting 813,440 additional people, plus two weeks, the following restrictions will be relaxed:
- Increased indoor sports stadium capacity indoor to 25%;
- Increased indoor capacity at conference centers/banquet halls/funeral homes to 25% (up from a 25-person capacity);
- Increased capacity at exercise facilities and gyms to 50%, up from 30%;
- 11 p.m. curfew on restaurants and bars is lifted.
Once the state reaches 65% of Michiganders (5.2 million), plus two weeks, the state says it will lift all indoor capacity limits. Social distancing will still be required between parties. Residential social gatherings will also be relaxed.
If the state reaches its final goal of 70% of Michiganders (5.6 million) having received one vaccine, plus two weeks, the state says it will lift the gathering and facemask mandate. It may reinstate that order for “unanticipated circumstances” such as a vaccine-resistant variant.
It’s unclear if Michigan will reach that goal.
Other Republican lawmakers are pushing for a faster reopening, calling Whitmer’s plan “a step in the right direction” but falling short of what is needed for people in Northern Michigan.
“Capacity limits and other restrictions have been hurting employers and employees at Michigan businesses, and the reopening metrics are an encouraging sign,” Rep. Ken Borton, R-Gaylord, said in a statement. “I will continue to urge Gov. Whitmer and her administration to rescind the orders entirely — an action that will provide businesses swifter economic relief.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.