Michigan Governor Whitmer reopens auto showrooms and retail by appointment

Governor Whitmer reopens some businesses in part of northern Michigan

Governor Whitmer has announced the partial reopening of certain establishments in most of northern MI, beginning Friday.

Whitmer's order also permits for small social gatherings of up to 10 people in both regions. Groups will be required to stay 6 feet apart and servers will have to wear face coverings.

At this time MCHD can not provide accurate information regarding the specifics of the phased opening of businesses in the Upper Peninsula, officials said.

Whitmer, who is being floated as possible former vice-presidential pick, has been accused of taking draconian measures amid the pandemic, which has resulted in 51,142 confirmed virus cases and at least 4,891 deaths in MI.

"The whole state is watching to make sure we get this right", said Whitmer, a Democrat who has been criticized by Republicans in the GOP-led Legislature for not restarting the economy sooner in regions with few cases.

The move follows the announcement on Monday of a partial reopening in dozens of northern counties starting Friday in an acknowledgement that the outbreak has had less impact on those areas.

However, Republicans declined to vote in favor of an extension when it was due on April 30, citing concerns about Whitmer keeping too much of the state's economy closed.

In a further expansion of worker protections, Whitmer also announced a second executive order signed Monday that requires businesses to create COVID-19 prevention strategies and train workers who will be involved in implementing them.

That means businesses must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protective equipment, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions. There must be cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high-touch areas like credit card machines.

"We are at a point where we think it's safe to start re-engaging sectors of our economy, but then this flood hits and we've got to evacuate tens of thousands of people who are anxious and scared, on top of this global pandemic", Whitmer said. She pointed to their new cases per million residents each day - less than five and two - compared to the statewide average of 33.

The relaxed restrictions will apply to businesses in the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City regions, Whitmer said. About 79% of deaths are from three counties in metro Detroit. "We still want you to be careful when you travel here", he said.