The decision comes after a two-week decline in the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations and a decrease in new cases in the state. Currently, the incidence rate amounts to 439 per million, a significant difference from the peak of 739 in mid-November.
Michigan’s Department of Health Begins Gradual Reopening of Indoor Entertainment
Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will lift the ban on the operations of casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and similar venues as of December 21. However, food and drink concessions remain closed until at least January 15.
The decision was announced with an executive order issued by the Department of Health on December 18. Indoor entertainment venues will be allowed to reopen under compliance with certain measures, such as wearing masks, which has proved effective in slowing the spread of the virus, the document says. Occupancy may not exceed 100 people and social distancing requirements remain in place.
The restrictions were first announced on November 15 and were set to expire on December 8, but were extended 12 more days in order to assess the situation and determine whether to prepare for a gradual reopening of venues. Governor Whitmer was encouraged by the progress made in the last month:
“These past few weeks, Michiganders across the state stepped up and did their part to slow the spread of Covid-19, and because of our collective hard work, we are now able to begin the steps to carefully lift some of the protocols we have in place.”
The order faced criticism from the Michigan Republican Party accusing the Governor of ignoring “the pleas of citizens across Michigan who are suffering personally and financially due to her shutdown policies.” Whitmer added that the figures will continue to be monitored closely and if there is sustained progress, the provisions might be lifted sooner than expected.
Online Poker Is Expected to Launch in Michigan in 2021
The Michigan House of Representatives has recently backed 2020 Senate Bill 991, which was sent to the Governor of Michigan for final approval. The bill is a follow-up to the Lawful Internet Gaming Act that lets casinos do multijurisdictional internet poker.
While online betting is expected to take off at the beginning of 2021, online poker could lag behind as the testing and approval process for this type of game is thought to be longer. Pennsylvania was the last state to welcome online poker, which came several months after the launch of online casino games and sports betting.