Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that she has lifted the state's stay-at-home order allowing many retailers to reopen Thursday and bars and restaurants to reopen to 50% capacity on June 8.
The move, which also eases limits on the number of people permitted to gather outside, comes as protests over George Floyd's death and riots continue to rock cities across the United States.
"We're taking a big step forward today in Michigan," Whitmer said during a news conference, according to the Detroit Free Press, before adding that residents should still "stay smart, stay safe, and if you fit the criteria, get tested."
"The data has shown that we're ready to carefully move our state into this next phase," she added. "While Michiganders are no longer required to stay home, we must all continue to practice social distancing."
Some businesses, such as gyms, hair salons, barbershops, indoor theaters and casinos, will remain closed, she said.
BREAKING NEWS: @GovWhitmer rescinds Safer at Home Order, moves #Michigan to Phase Four of the MI Safe Start Plan. R… https://t.co/d0542bAMkx— Michigan.gov (@Michigan.gov) 1591039443.0
Residents, who had been under some of the strictest social distancing measures since the order was first issued on March 23, will now be able to return to some semblance of normal life. Though certain restrictions are still in effect, such as the requirement to wear masks in enclosed areas.
Michigan, one the states hardest hit by the coronavirus, has been experiencing a steady decline in daily confirmed cases and deaths since its peak in early April.
However, the timing of Whitmer's decision to rescind the order is likely to draw ire from some. Especially from those who may remember when the governor responded harshly to those who protested against her social distancing measures last month. At the time, Whitmer claimed without proof that the protesters were endangering themselves and others by spreading the virus to rural areas of the state as a result of the demonstrations.