Michigan Guv Gretchen Whitmer apologizes, eases social distancing rules after violating them to dine with pals

She apologized after she was seen dining with 11 friends while the rules allowed only 6, but the new rule effective from June 1 is that the six-per-table law would no longer be effective


                            Michigan Guv Gretchen Whitmer apologizes, eases social distancing rules after violating them to dine with pals
Governor Gretchen Whitmer came under fire after she was seen dining with 11 friends at a restaurant (Getty Images)

Good news if you live in Michigan — social distancing is becoming less and less common. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has lifted restrictions in the state as Covid-19 cases continue to fall. However, many on social media believe there is another reason for the change, and that has to do with Whitmer herself.

On Saturday, May 22, the Democratic politician was spotted with 11 others at a restaurant in East Lansing. The large group was seated close together without masks, in direct violation of Whitmer's Covid-19 laws. The laws limit diners to six per table, but as the image showed, the Governor clearly didn't remember the number. Whitmer posted the photo on Facebook, before taking it down after Breitbart reported on it. 

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On Monday, May 24, the state health department revised its guidelines on social distancing, making it perfectly legal for Whitmer to do what she did. A coincidence? Maybe not, but that hasn't stopped a flood of criticism from people online.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer applauds for Joe Biden as he addresses union leaders in the parking lot outside the United Auto Workers Region 1 offices on September 9, 2020, in Warren, Michigan (Getty Images)

Whitmer's apology and change in rules

A day after the photo was posted, Whitmer issued a public apology. "Throughout the pandemic, I've been committed to following public health protocols. On Saturday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn't stop to think about it," a statement from her office said. "In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize."

Prior to May 22, state guidelines said restaurants could open if "groups of patrons are separated by at least 6 feet, no more than 6 patrons are seated together (at a table, booth, or group of fixed seats), and groups of patrons do not intermingle." But all that has been changed under Whitmer's 'MI Vacc to Normal' plan. Under the plan, capacity limits for outdoor events will be lifted from June 1.

Most importantly though, is that the six-per-table law would no longer be in effect from June 1. In Michigan, businesses, not customers, are fined for violating Covid-19 guidelines. So does that mean the restaurant she visited would be fined? The governor evaded that question when asked by reporters on Monday, May 24. She said that the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has "specifically not gone forward and penalized businesses that are trying to do the right thing. It's those that have flouted and put people's safety at risk that are the most concerning."

The Ingham County Health Department did confirm that a complaint was received about a party exceeding six guests at the Landshark, the same restaurant where Whitmer was spotted. It is unclear if that complaint was against Whitmer's party, but the department did confirm no action was taken. A spokesperson said "non-critical restaurant complaints are initially treated as education/consultation for the owner/manager," and added, "the matter is considered resolved given conversation with the owner, and the owner’s assurance that parties will be limited to no more than six guests in the future."

Demonstrators hold a rally in front of the Michigan state capital building to protest the governor's stay-at-home order on May 14, 2020, in Lansing, Michigan (Getty Images)

'Her hypocrisy is shameless'

The lack of consequences for the governor didn't go down well with Twitter, led by prominent Republicans. Ohio Rep Jim Jordan tweeted, "Speaker Pelosi went to the salon when you couldn’t. Gavin Newsom dined indoors at a restaurant when you couldn’t. Governor Whitmer gathered with a large group at a bar when you couldn’t. With Democrats, there’s always a double standard."



 

GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted, "@GovWhitmer tells Michiganders not to go to their vacation homes…her husband goes. She tells people not to travel…she charters a private plane to Florida. She sets capacity limits at restaurants… she breaks them herself. Her hypocrisy is shameless." Rep Bryon Donalds said, "“Rules for thee, but not for me.” Apparently, COVID rules don’t apply to Democrats. I’m surprised @GavinNewsom & @LoriLightfoot weren’t invited to @GovWhitmer’s dinner party. Businesses are suffering from draconian lockdowns while liberal leaders violate their own rules."



 

 



 

Rep Lauren Boebart tweeted, "What does Governor Whitmer have in common with Nancy Pelosi? They both broke their own tyrannical social distancing rules. End the hypocrisy and get the country opened up." Another said, "Gretchen Whitmer lives above the law while the people of Michigan suffer from her Draconian lockdowns."



 



 

Despite strongly pushing for increased restrictions, multiple Democrats have been caught violating pandemic orders since last year. California Governor Gavin Newsom was spotted at a restaurant in Napa Valley in November, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited a hair salon in San Fransisco and was seen without a mask in violation of safety regulations. Neither faced fines or actions, despite many ordinary Americans doing so for similar violations.

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