Published in Economic Development
Gov. Gretchem Whitmer Gov. Gretchem Whitmer COURTESY PHOTO

U.P., Northern Michigan set for phase 5 reopening, personal care businesses follow soon

BY Friday, June 05, 2020 12:38pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order today moving Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula to the next phase of reopening while the rest of the state will likely follow by June 15.

The order moves regions 6 and 8 of Whitmer’s MI Safe Start plan into phase 5 — the “containing” stage — on June 10, allowing for larger outdoor gatherings and businesses like movie theaters, convention centers, gyms and salons to reopen. Phase 5 allows for indoor gatherings of up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings up to 250 people. Outdoor performance and sporting venues with a capacity of up to 500 can also reopen.

Region 6 comprises 17 Northern Michigan counties while region 8 is the entire U.P.

“It’s another positive sign that we’re ready to move our economy forward safely and responsibly,” Whitmer said during a press conference today.

After facing criticism from salon owners in recent weeks, Whitmer also announced today personal care businesses — including nail and hair salons, massage services and tattoo parlors — will reopen statewide on June 15 under “strict safety measures.”

“In a few weeks, I anticipate the whole state will be in phase 5, that’s my fervent hope,” Whitmer said. “Please don’t drop your guard now. … The sacrifice we have made is paying off.”

Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said Michigan is seeing general rates of decline in new COVID-19 cases and deaths, including in Grand Rapids, which is in its second week of declining cases.

However, state officials continue to stress the need for social distancing and wearing masks in indoor public places to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Last week, Kent County Health Department Director Dr. Adam London said the Grand Rapids area remains in a “very vulnerable” position as the economy re-engages.

Whitmer also appointed Sean Egan as the state’s director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety. Egan is deputy director at the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, where he oversees MIOSHA, the Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency, the Bureau of Employment Relations and the Wage and Hour Division.

In his new role, Egan will ensure employers follow “strict safety measures to protect the health and safety of employees and customers,” Whitmer said.

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