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U.P. to enter next phase of reopening

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that barbershops and other personal-care businesses can reopen across Michigan on June 15, while those businesses and places like gyms and movie theaters that were shut down for months to curb the coronavirus can restart in northern Michigan next week.

It will be happening sooner in the Upper Peninsula — Wednesday, June10.

The governor advanced the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City regions to the next phase under her restart plan, effective Wednesday under a new order. She is expected to move the rest of the state’s more populated areas to that stage in coming weeks.

In 32 northern counties, including the U.P., indoor social gatherings and organized events of up to 50 people will be permissible, subject to distancing and other safety rules. Outdoor gatherings of up to 250 will be allowed. Outdoor performance and sporting venues will be able to have up to 25% capacity or 500 people, whichever is smaller — allowing for some graduation ceremonies, Whitmer said.

Indoor facilities such as bowling alleys, cinemas, convention centers and sports arenas — closed since March 16 — will open at 25% capacity or hold up to 250 people, whatever is smaller, as long as patrons stay 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart if they are not from the same household. Fitness centers must reduce class sizes as necessary and, “to the extent feasible,” configure workout equipment 10 feet (3 meters) apart — or 6 feet if there are barriers.

Hair, tanning, tattoo and massage businesses will be allowed to reopen statewide on June 15 after being closed since March 22. Barbers and hairdressers were the focus of a conservative group’s protest at the Capitol more than two weeks ago.

“Please do not drop your guard now,” said Whitmer, a Democrat. “Because of the hard work and sacrifice that we’ve made we’re now able to make this re-engagement happen.”

Rachel Harned, a Holland salon owner who told state lawmakers this week that salons should be allowed to reopen, said she was “thrilled.”

“Being closed this whole time, without knowing when we could open, was a nightmare,” she said. “With this advanced notice, salons and barbershops across the state can put safety measures in place to protect our clients and hit the ground running on opening day.”

Restaurants, which are open in northern Michigan at 50% capacity, can reopen across the state Monday under a previous announcement. Whitmer said customer capacity limits will remain in place for “a while.”

The state, where about 5,600 have died from COVID-19 complications — sixth-highest in the U.S. — later Friday planned to begin posting “probable” cases and deaths, not just those confirmed with a lab test. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, urged the elderly and those with underlying health conditions to continue staying home unless it is absolutely necessary to leave.

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