A week from Monday, restaurants across Farmington and Farmington Hills may welcome customers back into their dining rooms, with some restrictions.
State officials announced Friday that a new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) order, effective February 1, also allows movie theater concessions, personal services requiring mask removal, and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. It remains in effect until Sunday, February 21.
Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity, with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. and collect contract tracing information from patrons.
“We are pleased to see the improvements in case rates, hospitalizations and percent positivity that have allowed us to reopen more activities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “However, we must remain vigilant, especially since we now have a new more easily transmitted variant of this virus present in our state. This is not the time to let our guard down and Michiganders should minimize their risk by avoiding gatherings, wearing masks properly, social distancing and making a plan to get their vaccine when it is their turn.”
State-wide hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in a seven-week decline, with current capacity at 9.9 percent for beds with COVID-19 patients. Overall case rates and positivity rates continue to decline.
Local COVID infection numbers drop
Farmington area COVID rates tracked by Oakland County have also dropped, from a high of nearly 1,200 in early December to 471 recent (past 30 days) cases across four major ZIP codes as of Friday. Farmington and Farmington Hills city councils have approved measures that allow outdoor dining through the winter, and Farmington’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has provided heating units to keep patio patrons warm.
Robert Gordon, MDHHS director, pointed out that “unmasked, indoor activities like dining and drinking are still a source of high risk around COVID-19.”
“The safest course remains to support your favorite restaurant with carryout, delivery or outdoor dining,” he said. “If individuals choose to eat out, there are two things they can do to make it much safer: go out only with members of their own household and choose a restaurant participating in the MI COVID-19 Safer Dining certification program.”
Food service businesses can become certified by having their ventilation systems inspected and showing state officials that they are optimizing airflow. Certified businesses will be listed at michigan.gov/covidsaferdining and post a copy of the certification.
Indoor residential and non-residential gatherings are limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS urges avoiding indoor gatherings or interacting with only one other family.