Duggan details reopening some Detroit businesses, upcoming virtual festival

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan outlined the process for some businesses planning to reopen next week as deaths from the pandemic have slowed in the hard-hit city.

Business owners who plan to reopen as early as Tuesday will be able to pick up free masks and gloves in Eastern Market after registering for pick-up online.

Through a city coalition, Detroit Means Business, businesses with 50 or fewer employees will be given personal protective equipment when they register online at detroitmeansbusiness.org.

The coalition, which launched Monday, is offering aid to small businesses in the city to stay on their feet and a playbook of how to reinstate workers. More than 600 businesses have registered and scheduled times to pick up PPE from Eastern Market, Duggan said. 

Retail businesses and auto dealerships will be allowed to reopen, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday, but visits must be made by appointment. She also announced the state would lift restrictions on medical, dental and veterinary procedures deemed nonessential starting May 29. 

Her order eases restrictions on gatherings, allowing for gatherings of 10 or fewer people, but institutes restrictions on how businesses reopen.

Reopening businesses need PPE, markings inside and outside for customers to remain six feet apart, signs on their door detailing limits and masks, and a physical barrier between the cash register and customers. Buildings cannot have more than 10 people inside while smaller stores can't welcome more than a quarter of their fire marshal limit, Duggan said.

More than 50 neighboring police officers will be providing oversight for businesses under the direction of Chief James Craig, he said.

"If we do this right, in a couple of weeks, we’ll be talking about reopening the restaurants," Duggan said. "… In many cases, there is a lot of capacity outside and we're looking at options for our restaurateurs to be operating businesses outside."

The mayor also previewed next weekend's Everybody VS COVID-19 Unity Festival, a two-day online event designed to help fight the virus and raise awareness about the 2020 census.

Less than 50% of Detroit residents have responded to their 2020 U.S. Census survey, city officials said. The city will also be hosting a drive-thru at 11 a.m. May 30 where residents can pick up census materials at Martin Luther King High School.

Detroit recording artist Big Sean plays to fans.

Big Sean is leading a group of Detroit artists and performers who will participate in the streaming event 7-10 p.m. May 29 and 30. The event will be broadcast on the city of Detroit's Facebook, YouTube and Instagram pages.

Mayer Hawthorne, Sada Baby, La Britney, Gmac Cash and others will participate in the digital event, which borrows its name from Detroit Vs. Everybody creator Tommey Walker, who introduced an Everybody Vs. COVID-19 line of shirts and hoodies in March.

Eric Thomas, chief storyteller for the city of Detroit who is helping host the event, said there will be rappers, comedians and diverse performers.

"This is not only a thank-you to Detroiters, but a celebration of who we are," Thomas said.

The bulk of Michigan's cases overall (64%) has been in Metro Detroit, as well as 73% of the state's COVID deaths.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, passed a grim milestone this week, surpassing 1,000 deaths for a total of 1,024 on Friday. 

Detroit added four new deaths Friday, for a total of 1,301 coronavirus-related deaths. The hard-hit city is showing a steep decline in deaths related to the virus.

The city has had 20 deaths due to the virus in the last seven days, Duggan said.

"There was a time when we were having 40 to 50 a day," he said. "We haven’t had more than two-to-four deaths a day and that's because of everything you're doing."

The city also added 34 confirmed cases on Friday, bringing the total cases to 10,615.

Detroit's Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair said the numbers are continuing to move in the right direction and officials are focusing on testing in senior living centers.

So far, the city has tested 2,000 senior residents in 36 facilities. As of Friday, 300 nursing home residents have died in the city, accounting for one of every four deaths.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_