TRAVERSE CITY — Indoor restaurant dining is on track to return in Michigan on Feb. 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday. 

Gyms and indoor exercise classes can resume business across the state even sooner, this Saturday, she said during a noon update streamed online. Gyms in northern Lower Michigan reopened in June.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' latest order, issued Dec. 18, which affects various regions in the state differently, prohibits indoor restaurant dining, indoor group fitness classes, non-professional indoor sports, trampoline parks and water parks, and workplaces when work can be done from home.

"Today, we are confident that DHHS can lift some of the protocols that were previously in place," said Whitmer. "The pause that DHHS issued is working."

She said coronavirus-related statistics are improving across the state.

"The factors that we are looking at when making decisions are falling cases, percent of COVID hospital beds available and falling positive test rates. Our numbers have been headed in the right direction."

State numbers put filled COVID-19 beds in hospitals is in 13-day decline, and is currently at 12 percent, down from a peak of 19.4 percent on Dec. 4. The test positivity rate is plateauing at 9.1 percent.   

Case rates are increasing at 266 per million, but is a drastic drop from a Nov. 14 peak of 740 cases per million, though above a low of 239 cases per million on Christmas Day. 

Because pressure on medical facilities is lessening Whitmer said some restrictions safely can be eased.

Starting Jan. 16, indoor group fitness and exercise classes and indoor non-contact sports may resume, with masks. 

Food service businesses and workers may be able to resume indoor dining service soon, as they are looking at allowing indoor dining with mask requirements, capacity limits and a curfew starting on Feb. 1, she said. 

"If numbers continue to head in the right direction, our hope is that we will be able to resume indoor dining, with strong safety measures in place, on Feb. 1," said Whitmer.

She said more details will be released within a few days.

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