Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rolled back some of her strictest coronavirus regulations just days after former President Donald Trump left office, despite the fact that positive case numbers remain high throughout her state.
Michigan restaurants and bars can now host indoor dining at a 25% capacity starting this week, Whitmer announced on Friday.
Eateries have been asking Whitmer to allow them to reopen for months, but to no avail.
But as soon as President Biden entered the White House, Whitmer changed her mind.
“The pause has worked,” Whitmer said during a press conference. “The science around this virus is settled, and if we can all wear masks and be very smart about congregating, and not do it unless it’s necessary, washing our hands, doing that social distancing, we will be in a strong position in a few weeks. And we’ll be able to do more. That’s the hope.”
Several Michigan restaurant owners said they were pleased by the decision to reopen, but pointed out that Whitmer could have made that call sooner.
“A lot sooner,” said Vince Passalacqua, owner of a downtown Detroit restaurant. “It’s been driving consumers crazy over here because they weren’t given the choice to eat in a restaurant.”
Whitmer has enforced some of the strictest coronavirus regulations in the country, forbidding residents from traveling to their second homes, banning non-residential gatherings of more than 10 people, and prohibiting retail stores from selling certain goods that might encourage outdoor activity, such as gardening supplies.
But like most Democratic leaders, she has no problem violating her own lockdown order. Just two days ago, Whitmer traveled out of state to celebrate Biden’s inauguration with hundreds of other people.
— Gretchen Whitmer (@gretchenwhitmer) January 20, 2021
Whitmer isn’t the only Democrat to ease restrictions now that Trump is out of the picture.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser similarly lifted the city’s restrictions on indoor dining last week, allowing restaurants to begin hosting at 25% capacity once again.
But like Michigan, D.C.’s coronavirus case levels are still exactly where they were during Trump’s final weeks in office.
The daily case rate in D.C. has been in the red zone — meaning an average of more than 15 new cases per 100,000 residents each day — since November, according to the Washington Post.
On Thursday, when Bowser lifted the indoor dining restriction, it was deep in the red at 36.7.
Bowser claimed that lifting the restrictions now is acceptable because they were just a “holiday pause” to prevent increased transmission during the holiday season.
But many critics pointed out how convenient the timing has been.
So many coincidences happening after the new @POTUS is sworn in, huh? These people destroyed so many businesses unnecessarily. If you can’t see that, you’re blind. This is pure evil. #EndTheLockdowns https://t.co/wupTdedY7D
— Douglas Karr (@douglaskarr) January 22, 2021
Predictable timing. https://t.co/At5BNzNZw8
— Aubrey Huff (@aubrey_huff) January 22, 2021
Impeccable timing https://t.co/6biRrrOeEm
— Sara Gonzales (@SaraGonzalesTX) January 22, 2021