(CBS DETROIT)- It’s official, the masks mandate and most COVID restrictions now lifted in the State of Michigan.

“Effective today there is no more mask or gathering order, effective today there are no more capacity limits indoors or outdoors, effective today our pure Michigan summer is back and we can realize it,” said Governor Whitmer during a press conference in Detroit Tuesday.

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Governor Whitmer was joined by Lt. Governor Gilchrist, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and Mayor Duggan during a press conference on Belle Isle. Although the announcement of reopening the state was one to celebrate, the message of remembering those we’ve lost during the pandemic was at the forefront.

“I’ve said goodbye to 27 people from this deadly virus,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist.

“In the city of Detroit we have lost more than 2200 of our neighbors,” said Mayor Duggan.

Those Detroiters who lost their lives to COVID were memorialized during a special service that took place on Belle Isle in 2020. One of the reasons the location was chosen for the announcement.

“And now this island is a place of celebration,” said Mayor Duggan.

A celebration that’s been 15 months in the making. Whitmer says a lot of tragedy came from the pandemic, but through the new economic jump start program Michiganders will be able to move forward.

“This is a plan to boost wages to at least $15 an hour by giving businesses the grant to cover the wage and $15 for the next 3 months. This is an investment of $1.4 million in childcare,” Whitmer said.

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Whitmer also says they’re proposing grants for small businesses and propose offering $300 per week to employees that were laid off during the pandemic as they return to work.This will be an adjustment  for many working familiesThat is why our administration is proposing unprecedented investments in critical areas like higher wagesaccess to childcare, and equity in  education to rebuild and recoverWe must work together to use this exceptional opportunity presented to us by COVID-19 federal funding to build back better from the pandemic and create brighter futures for every Michigander,” said Gilchrist.

Whitmer also noted during the press conference, that we are still in a pandemic and encourages those who are not yet vaccinated to please consider doing so.

Dr. Khaldun says they are concerned over the variants, especially the Delta one, that spreads much faster.

Masks are still required in some places such as healthcare settings, and business owners have the right to enforce mask wear if they choose.

 

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April Morton