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Whitmer Administration Rescinds Rule She Violated At Bar

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration on Monday rescinded a rule that limits restaurant tables to no more than six people, a day after she apologized for violating the COVID-19 regulation while gathering with friends at an East Lansing bar.

The Democratic governor has said tables at the Landshark Bar & Grill were pushed together as more people arrived in her party of roughly a dozen fully vaccinated people.

A revised gatherings and face mask order, issued by the state health department, no longer includes the six-patrons-per-table provision, effective June 1. Whitmer had announced last week the planned easing of capacity restrictions on June 1 but had not specified if other changes would be coming in the new order, which was released as expected on Monday.

The governor also signed a revised workplace safety order that immediately no longer requires 6 feet (2 meters) of separation between tables.

"It was an honest mistake. I have apologized for it," Whitmer told reporters.

Violations of coronavirus orders are enforced against employers, not customers. State regulators have fined more than 280 employers.

Asked if the Landshark should be fined and, if not, if she would lift fines on other businesses, the governor said 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."

Republicans in the GOP-led Legislature previously complained that the six-person limit keeps large families from eating together.

Republicans said Whitmer should rescind fines that were levied on businesses. She has come under criticism for waiting to release information about a flight to see her elderly father in Florida, which occurred weeks before two top aides traveled south for spring break as COVID-19 cases soared.

In May 2020, Whitmer acknowledged that her husband dropped her name in an effort to get his boat in the water for Memorial Day weekend but said it simply was a "failed attempt at humor."

"Michiganders deserve more than a hollow apology after a year of 'rules for thee but not for me' from their governor," Tori Sachs, executive director of the conservative Michigan Freedom Fund, said in a statement. "We are calling on Whitmer to end her orders today, pardon every individual accused of a similar offense, rescind every violation issued by state and local officials, and refund every fine the state's collected."

Last week, Whitmer announced that capacity and crowd restrictions will be lifted on July 1.

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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