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Indoor dining will 'likely' reopen Feb. 1, Michigan group says


Craig Mauger   | The Detroit News

Lansing — An association that represents bars and restaurants in Michigan says it expects Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to announce Wednesday a plan to allow indoor dining to resume Feb. 1.

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association posted on Facebook Tuesday that the Feb. 1 plan will give owners time to work with their supply chains and figure out staffing. The plan will likely include limited capacity and a curfew, the association added.

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Scott Ellis, executive director of the association, says the group has spoken with the governor's office and the details are what they "expect" will be announced Wednesday.

Indoor dining at bars and restaurants has been suspended in Michigan since Nov. 18 amid a surge in COVID-19 inflections. The state's most recent epidemic order closed indoor dining through Friday.

"Although we are disappointed with the idea of being closed for another two weeks, finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel is certainly reassuring," the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association said on Facebook.

Whitmer is expected to hold a press conference on the subject Wednesday. Her office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the Feb. 1 date.

Michigan's COVID-19 metrics are in a better position than they were in late November. But there remain concerns about a potential uptick caused by holiday gatherings.

Hospitalizations tied to the virus are trending downward, and last week, the rate of COVID-19 tests bringing positive results dropped to 8.9%. During the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5, the rate hit 14.2%.

The state reported 21,955 new coronavirus cases last week. The total was up from the previous week but well below the 50,892 cases reported the week of Nov. 15-21, the week the governor initially closed indoor dining at bars and restaurants.

cmauger@detroitnews.com