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Whitmer allows doctor visits, auto sales by appointment, gatherings of 10 or less

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday she has lifted restrictions on retail businesses and auto dealerships across the state starting May 26, 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. 

The order will ease restrictions on gatherings, allowing for gatherings of 10 or fewer people, effective immediately. 

"The data shows that Michigan is ready to phase in these sectors of our economy, but we must stay vigilant and ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said.

Even with the lifting of some restrictions, Whitmer expects she will need to extend the stay-home order in the coming days. The extension would mean those businesses not included in the new orders — such as restaurants and gyms — would remain closed for a while longer downstate.

The extension of those restrictions will allow the state to gauge whether the loosening of other restrictions created a spike in coronavirus cases.

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association said Whitmer's announcement was a positive step for residents, who would be able to resume normal healthcare visits.

"Our member hospitals and health systems will continue to ensure that services offered adhere to strong safety, infection control and other COVID-19-related precautions," MHA CEO Brian Peters said in a statement. "Hospitals are safe; please don’t delay care of any kind."     

She also urged residents ahead of Memorial Day weekend to practice proper safety protocol to prevent against a spread of the virus. 

"Please remember to stay safe," she said. "This virus is still present in Michigan."

The easing comes the day before northern Michigan begins to restart restaurant and retail sales. 

Whitmer and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun urged residents to use proper safety protocol amid the lifted restrictions. 

Businesses that are reopening must train workers on proper infection-control procedure and inform employees of a coronavirus case among staff.

Retail establishments also must consider curbside pick-up service to reduce traffic inside the store and decrease lines outside.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com