State of Union Democrats

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks with reporters Feb. 4 at her office in Lansing.

TRAVERSE CITY — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said up north economies will begin to re-open this week.

The governor on Monday signed an executive order that authorizes the re-opening of retail businesses, office work that can't be remotely done, plus bars and restaurants with limited seating.

The partial re-engagement of the economy will begin Friday in both the Upper Peninsula and the most northern stretches of Lower Michigan.

The governor said it's a big step, but it doesn't mean the pandemic crisis is over.

“It’s crucial that all businesses do everything in their power to protect their workers,  customers, and their families. And as we approach Memorial Day weekend, I encourage everyone to be smart and be safe," Whitmer said.

Local governments may enforce a more cautious approach, she said, such as limiting restaurant seating to outdoor dining areas.

Whitmer said these up north regions have "just not been hit as hard with COVID-19," and are in a better position to begin to phase in different sectors of the economy.

"The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive.

Businesses that re-open must take special precautions, she said.

"I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a 6-foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often. This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state," Khaldun said.

Watch for updates.

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