Michigan governor moves state reopening forward, citing encouraging Covid-19 indicators

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer discusses the Covid-19 pandemic in Lansing on December 15, 2020. By Taylor Romine, CNN

(CNN) -- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday announced the lifting of some restrictions designed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

In-person classes can resume at at high schools and indoor venues such as movie theaters can reopen with capacity limits and other safety precautions, she said at a news conference. Outdoor group fitness activities and outdoor non-contact sports can also resume.

Colleges can let students return to in-person classes, but are asked to have a slightly later start date of January 19, she said.

This lifting of restrictions follows a decrease in Covid-19 markers over the last month, both Whitmer and state Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said.

The state's seven-day positivity rate has lowered to 10.8% and 17.3% of hospital beds are being used for Covid-19 cases, according to Khaldun.

Whitmer said that starting Monday, indoor venues where people can remain masked and socially distant, like movie theaters, will be allowed to reopen but cannot sell concessions.

Multiple households will not be permitted to attend indoor venues together, Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said.

This order expires on January 15, Whitmer said, but added that this lifting of restrictions could continue depending on how the holidays go.

"If we as a state do the same thing over Christmas that we did over Thanksgiving, and over New Year's Eve, we will be able to move things forward more quickly than if we drop our guard and travel and gather with multiple households," she said. "It's really that simple."

While congratulating Michigan residents on their progress in fighting Covid-19, she said that there is still a long way to go, especially in regard to the impending budget deadline.

She criticized the current Covid-19 relief bill which excludes state and local funding, calling the move "reckless" because local governments across the country desperately need funding.

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