Whitmer orders casinos, restaurants, other venues to stay closed through May 28

The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced late Thursday she is extending her order closing places of public accommodation such as gyms, theaters, bars and casinos through May 28 to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The action also limits restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders, according to a statement from the governor.

“Although we are beginning to see the curve flatten, we are not out of the woods yet. We must all continue to be diligent, observe social distancing and limit in-person interactions and services to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said in the release.

“Michigan now has more than 40,000 cases of COVID-19. The virus has killed more Michiganders than we lost during the Vietnam war. Extending this order is vital to the health and safety of every Michigander. If we work together and do our part, we can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.” 

Her order comes as the state Legislature on Thursday authorized a lawsuit challenging her powers to fight the pandemic with a continued shutdown. Republicans pledged not to extend her state of emergency, which they say ended Thursday.

The extended order doesn't restrict a business from offering food and beverage using delivery or window, walk-up, drive-through and drive-up service, state officials said. Restaurants can allow five people inside at a time to pick up orders if they stay 6 feet apart.

"Places of public accommodation are encouraged to offer food and beverage service in one or more of those ways and use precautions to mitigate potential transmission of COVID-19, including social distancing and wearing as face covering," Whitmer's office said.

The restrictions do not apply to office buildings, grocery stores, markets, food pantries, pharmacies, drug stores, medical equipment/supplies providers, health care facilities, residential care facilities, juvenile justice facilities, warehouse and distribution centers, or industrial and manufacturing sites.    

The announcement came hours after hundreds of protesters gathered at the Capitol to protest her stay-at-home order.

With the protesters present, the House and Senate approved resolutions that authorize leaders to file the legal challenges against unilateral efforts the governor has taken because of the coronavirus.

Whitmer and her supporters said again Thursday that they don't believe the Legislature has the authority to end her emergency declaration and stop her from taking unilateral actions amid a public health crisis.