Michigan halts in-person classes, indoor dining as coronavirus surges

A woman speaks behind a podium.
In a photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., in October.
Michigan Office of the Governor via AP

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration on Sunday ordered high schools and colleges to stop in-person classes, closed restaurants to indoor dining and suspended organized sports — including the high school football playoffs — in a bid to curb the state's spiking coronavirus cases.

The restrictions will begin Wednesday and last three weeks. They are not as sweeping as when the Democratic governor issued a stay-at-home order last spring but are extensive. They were announced as Michigan faces surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations statewide and rising deaths.

“The situation has never been more dire. We are at the precipice and we need to take some action,” Whitmer said at an evening news conference. "

An order written by the state health department prohibits high schools, colleges and universities from offering in-person instruction. K-8 schools can continue with on-site classes, though — as before — it is not required. Restaurants, now operating at 50 percent capacity, must halt dine-in service inside.

Indoor residential gatherings, which were capped at 10 people, can include no more than two households. Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 25 people. Entertainment facilities such as theaters, bowling alleys and indoor water parks must close again. Gyms and pools can stay open but not offer group classes.

The restrictions on organized sports do not include college or professional sports events that meet “extraordinary standards for risk mitigation.”

Whitmer urged the public to “double down” with precautions such as wearing a mask and keeping distance to avoid a second stay-at-home order.

Robert Gordon, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, noted that the order “focuses on indoor gatherings and the settings where groups gather and where the virus can thrive.”

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.