Traverse City Ready To Reopen For Business This Weekend — Here's What To Expect

WWJ News
May 20, 2020 - 1:35 pm

(WWJ) Traverse City is one of many northern Michigan cities gearing up to open up, after the governor loosened restrictions there just in time for the holiday weekend.

Beginning this Friday, May 20, the popular tourist destination — along with other communities in 32 counties — will be allowed to reopen bars, dine-in restaurants and retail stores at limited capacity.

What can people expect to see? 

"I think our restaurants and bars and retail stores are getting creative," said Jillian Manning, with the Traverse City Convention and Visitor's Bureau. "There are a lot of great rules in place for social distancing and using masks that we'll see all kind of through all those downtown and beyond businesses. But I think people are still looking at curbside options, they're looking at ways to get people outside to dine and experience some of those retail stores."

"So I think people are taking (COVID-19) very serious still, and making sure that we're creating a safe and sanitary environment," she added. "But they're excited to welcome people back and get the economy going again." 

What message does Manning have for any metro Detroiters planning to visit?

"I think the biggest thing is do what feels right to you," Manning told WWJ's Brooke Allen. "Now safety comes first for all of us; we obviously want people to be enjoying the beautiful northern Michigan region when the time is right. And right now the governor's order still extends to many different places within the state — the stay-home order.

"So it'll be maybe a little while before people can travel the way that they normally would, but we're gonna be here and be excited to provide, you know, the beautiful open spaces that you love so much about northern Michigan, and the fun adventures you can have in downtown," Manning said. "It'll probably look a little bit different, but we're being creative and innovative and trying to make sure that we can give the best experience possible to people that come Up North." 

Only two designated regions are affected by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-92

Region 6 includes Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Crawford, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Presque Isle and Emmet Counties. Region 8 includes  Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Iron, Baraga, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, Delta, Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac and Chippewa Counties. 

Whitmer cautioned downstate residents not to all head up at once.

"This is a big step, and it’s right before the holiday weekend. I want to encourage everyone to stay smart and stay safe. Keep your wits about you. Let’s not all go rushing out and force a closure," Whitmer said at a Monday news briefing. "This is step that we feel we can take in these particular regions because of the (COVID-19) numbers that we're seeing."

Along with bars, restaurants and retail Order 2020-92 also allows office work that can't be done remotely. The order does not reopen barber shops, hair and nail salons, gyms, movie theaters or casinos. 

Beginning with regions with the fewest COVID-19 cases, Whitmer said she hopes to announce more reopenings elsewhere in the state ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. She hasn't yet offered any hints as to which areas will be next.