Epidemic orders were extended by 12 days less than 24-hours before the orders that closed restaurants to indoor dining and limited indoor gatherings were set to expire.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has extended the epidemic order that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities by 12 days to allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan.

Today's orders mean that bars and restaurants must remain closed for dine-in services. Casinos, movie theaters, and group exercise classes will also remain closed. Colleges, universities, and high schools will continue with remote learning, with no in-person classes.

While we have seen early signs of progress in our case rates and hospitalizations, unfortunately our rates are still alarmingly high and we need more time to understand the impact that Thanksgiving travel may have had on the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “I am hopeful because vaccines will be available soon, potentially later this month. However, it will take time for the vaccine to be widely available to the general public, and it is important that we continue to do what we can to contain this virus.

The order will keep existing measures in place through December 20 and does not include a blanket stay-home action. Employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, including those in manufacturing, construction and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.

Governor Whitmer went on to reiterate her request for support from the Michigan Legislature and asking them to pass a COVID relief package to help families and businesses across the state, which included a permanent extension of unemployment benefits.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is scheduled to take up a request later this week to authorize the emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine. If approved, vaccinations could begin within days. Initial vaccine supplies will be in high demand and therefore rationed to make the biggest impact. Widespread COVID-19 vaccinations are not expected until Spring 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that health care workers and nursing home patients get first priority when the shots become available.

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