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Health Officer: Easing Restaurant Restrictions Is A Step Toward Normalcy


Restrictions on restaurant capacity and hours of operation are starting to ease in Michigan.

Ingham County’s top health official says it’s a step towards what she calls an “exit strategy” for moving the industry back to normal.

As of Tuesday, bars and restaurants can move up to 50-percent capacity and stay open past 11 p.m. If nothing unforeseen happens this month, all restrictions will be lifted on July 1st.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail says continued health precautions, and the state’s improving vaccination rate, will help. "I think a lot of people are going to probably be cautious and still wear masks as they congregate around," Vail states, "so we’ll just see.”

More than 60-percent of Michigan residents age 16 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, the rate of positive COVID-19 tests in Ingham County has plummeted in recent weeks.

That rate exceeded 20-percent at times in April. Now, Health Officer Linda Vail says those numbers have gone way down. “We still are hovering closer to that 5-percent, in terms of positivity, rather than getting under 3-percent," Vail concludes, "but we’ve made remarkable progress compared to where we’ve been since almost last September.”

Vail says the positive test rate should continue to trend downwards.

Ingham County had three COVID-19 deaths in each of the last two weeks, down from 14 and 8 in the two weeks before that.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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