Your table is ready. The day many of us have been waiting for is almost here. Governor Gretchen Whitmer made it official today. Restaurants in Michigan can reopen for indoor seating on February 1st.

Yes, there are rules and limits that have to be followed, but here's how it all should play out.

The new order, released this morning by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, runs for three weeks, through February 21st. Its says restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity, with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.

This order also opens up rules for attendance and concessions at casinos, movie theaters and stadiums, and personal services requiring mask removal; and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households.

The state's latest Covid-19 numbers are trending much better, which they say allows for the loosening of the restrictions. MDHHS closely monitors three metrics, and all have either stabilized or declined in the past few weeks.

  • Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in seven-week decline, with current capacity at 9.9% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6% on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
  • Overall case rates: Currently at 225 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14, plateaued after a decline to 239 on Friday, Dec. 25 and has been in decline for 11 days.
  • Positivity rate: currently at 6.8% and declining.

The MDHHS director, Robert Gordon, also put in a plug for two other related matters: The first is, going out with only members of your own household.  The second is the voluntary MI COVID-19 Safer Dining certification program where food service establishments get themselves certified, by having their ventilation system inspected and submitting their inspection report to the state indicating they are optimizing airflow.

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