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Michigan COVID restrictions are lifted

Above, the state Capitol in Lansing in 2012.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that practically all the state’s COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The governor made the announcement outdoors under partly cloudy skies at Detroit’s Belle Isle city park. She said there are no more broad mask requirements, no more indoor or outdoor capacity limits at bars and restaurants, and no limits on gatherings.

“Our Pure Michigan summer is back and we can realize it,” she said to the cheers and applause of a small crowd.

But Whitmer acknowledged Michigan has not reached its 70 percent vaccination target.

Doctor Joneigh Khaldun is Michigan’s chief medical executive. She said the job now is to boost the number of people who are vaccinated.

“Our work is not over, and while our cases and our test positivity rate are low, the pandemic has not ended,” she said. “There’s still many people who have not been vaccinated, and we have not yet achieved herd immunity.”

Whitmer also has ambitious plans to use three and a half billion dollars from the federal government for job training, schools, and reducing educational disparities.

“Twelve months ago, we thought we were going to have a 3 billion dollar deficit,” she said. “We know we will have a 3-point-5 billion dollar surplus. This is an opportunity where we can make transformational change.”

What Whitmer does not have, though, is an agreement with the Republican-controlled Legislature on how to use that money.

Whitmer also said she would not agree to give up emergency powers during a future crisis as she bargains with Republicans on spending plans.