Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that Michigan will lift more of the broad restrictions intended to fight the spread of COVID-19 beginning June 1.

That’s when outdoor capacity limits will be fully lifted, allowing bigger crowds at outdoor sporting events, concerts and more.

Indoor capacity limits will increase to 50% for the month of June, allowing more people at casinos, gyms, pools, weddings, funerals and other indoor events.

Starting July 1, the state intends to lift its mask mandate for unvaccinated individuals and remove remaining capacity limits.

“We look at this as the last moment of this type of orders,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer said some targeted restrictions to protect vulnerable populations may remain in place, and noted that businesses would still have the authority to require masks or limit capacity if they see fit. Some events – like the Mackinac Policy Conference, being held on Mackinac Island in September – will also require proof of vaccination to attend.

The announcement effectively ends Whitmer’s “Vacc to Normal” plan, which would have tied the state’s reopening to vaccination rates.

Whitmer joked that her team had to go “vacc to the drawing board” after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance allowing vaccinated individuals to go maskless in public.

Under the original plan, Michigan would have kept a mask mandate in place for all individuals until two weeks after 70% of individuals age 16 and up had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Michigan’s COVID-19 metrics have improved since a spring surge as vaccinations increase, though the state still ranks as the 10th worst state in the nation for new cases per population, according to CDC data.

As of Thursday, about 4.6 million Michigan residents age 16 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for 56.8% of all residents age 16 and up.

Michigan’s pace of vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks.

Under the now defunct “Vacc to Normal” plan, indoor capacity at sports stadiums, concerence centers, banquet halls and funeral homes would have increased to 25% when the state hit 60% or residents age 16 years older receiving at least one dose of a vaccine.

Capacity at gyms would have increased to 50% and a curfew on restaurants and bars would also have been lifted as part of that reopening metric.

At 65%, all indoor capacity limits would be lifted, requiring only social distancing between parties.

And, finally, at 70%, the mask mandate would have been lifted.

Whitmer encouraged Michigan residents to show one another grace as they decide whether to continue wearing masks under the new orders.

“We should recognize that everyone processes change at different speeds and in different ways,” Whitmer said. “And so for the next few weeks and possibly months, some Michiganders will feel safer with them, even if they’ve been vaccinated…There should be no shaming or guilt tripping…We should trust one another to make choices that are best for us.”

Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a freelance reporter covering politics and policy in Michigan. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first started covering politics during the 2016 presidential...

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