Michigan lifts face mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents

Businesses diverge on protocols amid loosened pandemic restrictions

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State officials eased up on pandemic-related restrictions over the weekend, no longer requiring fully vaccinated people to wear a face mask or socially distance in most settings. And while the updated orders allow for individual retailers and restaurants to continue enacting their own restrictions, many have followed suit and reeled back requirements that all customers mask up. 

Under the updated order, businesses can still require masks for all customers. Alternatively, they can make a “good faith” effort to require masks for unvaccinated people, like putting up signs that outline the new rules on face masks. And plenty have already chosen the latter. 

Meijer joined Walmart, Kohl’s, Trader Joe’s, Target, CVS, Macy’s, Costco, Starbucks, Chipotle, Best Buy, Lowe’s, Home Depot and several other large national chains in allowing fully vaccinated customers to shop without a face mask this week. Meanwhile, Kroger, Whole Foods, Aldi and many other businesses in Greater Lansing are still requiring all shoppers wear masks. 

Stober’s Bar was among those locally to maintain a blanket mask mandate on their premises.

“Please do not argue with the staff about this policy. We are taking the necessary precautions for safety. They are doing their jobs. If you do not comply with this, you will be asked to leave,” the bar tweeted. “Also, if you haven’t already, how about you go and get yourself vaccinated?”

Deadtime Stories in REO Town is also requiring face masks for everyone, posting to Facebook this week: “Until it’s safe for all of us to walk around unmasked without having to rely on the honor system, the masks stay. The end is finally in sight. We can hang in just a little bit longer.”

Crunchy’s in East Lansing took another route, only requiring masks for unvaccinated guests.

“Masks are still required inside the restaurant at all times (other than while eating and drinking) for patrons who are NOT fully vaccinated,” the bar and restaurant tweeted. “Those who are fully vaccinated may roam about freely without their mask, or still keep it on. It’s up to you.”

The state changes mirror guidance released from the CDC that also provides that face masks are no longer required for anyone at any outdoor gathering regardless of vaccination status. Those who are not vaccinated or in between shots are asked to keep wearing them in Michigan. 

Federal guidance also still encourages face masks in crowded indoor settings regardless of vaccine status — including recommendations that apply on public and shared transportation.

In related news…

Following federal guidance, the state Department of Health and Human Services recommended that healthcare providers statewide begin vaccinating children ages 12 to 15. State officials also recommended that all types of the COVID-19 vaccine can now be administered at the same time (or on the same day) as other vaccines for children and adults. 

Accordingly, the Ingham County Health Department — among other providers like Rite Aid — are accepting appointments for those ages 12 and up. Parents and guardians can schedule appointments anytime at hd.ingham.org/coronavirus.t To 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. 

The East Lansing City Council also repealed an ordinance that required face masks be worn in outdoor public spaces within the boundaries of the city’s Downtown Development Authority. Additionally, Michigan State University no longer requires masks be worn outdoors on campus.

Also: East Lansing residents experiencing financial hardships during the pandemic can now apply for up to $7,000 in grant assistance for past due rent or mortgage bills and up to $3,000 for utility bills. Residents must demonstrate a hardship related to COVID-19, like the loss of a job or an unexpected medical bill, and can submit applications online at capitalareahousing.org. 

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