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Gov. Whitmer orders bars, theaters to temporarily close; restaurants limited to carry out, delivery

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Starting at 3 p.m. Monday, many businesses in Michigan will temporarily close.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered "places of public accommodation" to close until Monday, March 30 at 11:59 p.m. to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Michigan restaurants are ordered to suspend dine-in service, but may continue preparing food for delivery and carry out.

Other states and cities have put similar bans in place, including Ohio, Illinois, Washington state, and New York City.

Catch up on the latest news about coronavirus here.

The executive order applies to restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, bars, taverns, brewpubs, distilleries, clubs, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor performance venues, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, spas, and casinos.

The order does not apply to office buildings, grocery stores or markets, pharmacies, drug stores, and health care providers, and a number of other facilities.

“This disease is a challenge unlike any we’ve experienced in our lifetimes,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Fighting it will cause significant but temporary changes to our daily lives. By practicing social distancing and taking aggressive action now, the state is working to mitigate the spread of coronavirus so we reduce the risk that our health care system becomes overwhelmed. This is about saving lives."

The Centers for Disease Control is urging a nationwide ban to gatherings of 50 or more people for at least the next eight weeks, including conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. According to the announcement, "This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus."

The number of confirmed cases in Michigan has increased rapidly since the two initial presumptive positives were announced Tuesday, March 10. There were 53 confirmed cases as of Sunday night.

“We have to get aggressive on the front end to preclude community spread or at least to mitigate it, and, as we see this growing, social distancing is the most important thing that we can do, and everybody has a responsibility on that front," Whitmer said in an appearance on MSNBC.

The governor also signed an order that extends state unemployment benefits for workers who are sick or quarantined, or who take on family care responsibilities as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. It would also apply to workers who are laid off or don’t get paid family or sick leave benefits.

Whitmer previously ordered all K-12 schools to close until Monday, April 6. She also banned events of more than 250 people and told all three Detroit casinos to close.

This post was updated Monday, March 16 at 3:46 p.m.

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Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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