Michigan's 6-person restaurant, bar rule rescinded after Whitmer's violation

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
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Grand Rapids — Michigan's new COVID-19 health rules, effective June 1, include the elimination of a restriction Gov. Gretchen Whitmer violated over the weekend. 

The epidemic rules released by the state Department of Health and Human Services Monday have dropped requirements that restaurant and bar tables be limited to six people, with each table being six feet apart. 

The governor told the media at a Monday press conference that the determination to eliminate the rule "was made well before the weekend" and prior to her Saturday visit to East Lansing's Landshark.

She repeated apologies for violating her own social distancing rules at the restaurant, but avoided saying whether the restaurant should be fined as other facilities have been for breaking COVID-19 guidelines. 

The governor added that state regulators have not penalized businesses trying to do the right thing, but instead focused on those that "flouted" state rules and put people at risk of catching COVID-19.

"I don't know that there's a lot more for me to add at this point in time other than those former Spartans — or I guess you're a Spartan for life — who know the establishment should be aware that it is now a restaurant, and they have pretty good pizza," Whitmer said Monday of The Landshark.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer repeated apologies Monday for violating her health department's social distancing rules at an East Lansing  restaurant over the weekend. The order she violated was rescinded Monday but had been in the works before the weekend, Whitmer said.

The state on Monday issued new epidemic rules, effective June 1, that rescind the state health department's May 15 epidemic order that says no more than six people can be seated together and groups of patrons must be six feet apart.

The order largely focuses on other restrictions that will be lifted on June 1, such as capacity limitations on outdoor venues.

The order came a day after Whitmer apologized Sunday after a photo showed her at East Lansing's Landshark with 12 other people gathered around tables pushed together in violation of her health department's then-existing epidemic order.

The governor issued her apology Sunday after the conservative news outlet Breitbart reported the incident at the East Lansing eatery and bar.

"Yesterday, I went with friends to a local restaurant, Whitmer said in her Sunday statement. "As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn't stop to think about it.

"In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize."

When asked Monday whether she thought her actions Saturday would encourage "pushback" among residents who don't wish to comply with state pandemic orders, Whitmer said "There's always the pushback."

"In this environment, there is no making everyone happy on any issue," she said. "We're doing the best that we can following the science to make sure we keep people safe."

Breitbart News posted this photo (the original photo shows 13 unmasked people, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer) on Twitter with a caption saying that Whitmer violated her own coronavirus orders at a bar this weekend.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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