Washington and Michigan are entering partial lockdowns as COVID-19 cases in the states — and nationwide — spike

  • Governors for Michigan and Washington announced Sunday that their states will enter partial lockdowns this week.
  • Both will ban most indoor social gatherings, such as in-person dining and movie theaters.
  • In Washington, gyms must also close. In Michigan, high schools and colleges must bring all teaching online.
  • Michigan's three-week lockdown starts midnight at the end of Tuesday, and Washington's four-week lockdown starts midnight at the end of Monday.
  • Both states are experiencing rapid rises in COVID-19 cases.
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Michigan and Washington are entering partial lockdowns to try to curb a spike of COVID-19 cases.

Both states will ban most indoor social gatherings, such as in-person dining and visits to movie theaters. Stores and services such as hairdressers will only be able to operate at limited capacity.

Michigan's three-week lockdown starts midnight at the end of Tuesday, and Washington's four-week lockdown starts midnight at the end of Monday.

Other states have introduced travel and public gathering restrictions in the run up to Thanksgiving.

COVID-19 cases across the US have been spiraling as the country is hit by a third wave of the virus.

In the week to November 16, the US recorded 1 million new COVID-19 cases, including 170,333 on Friday alone, breaking the single-day count for the fourth day in a row, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.

This has brought its total to 11 million cases — almost 20% of all worldwide cases recorded since the first case of the virus in late 2019. It is the world's highest tally.

Michigan's new partial COVID-19 lockdown

From Wednesday, restaurants won't be allowed to offer indoor dining, colleges and high schools must shift to online learning, and movie theaters and casinos have to shut.

Hospital admissions related to COVID-19 are rising dramatically in the state, and thousands of new cases are being added every day, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said Sunday when it announced the new restrictions.

During the new lockdown, residents are only allowed to invite one other household to their home at a time.

Gyms and swimming pools will remain open for individual exercise at 25% capacity, but group exercise classes will be banned.

However, meeting outside as a group of up to 25, dining outdoors, and visiting parks will still be allowed.

Public transport, non-essential shops, and hairdressers will also stay open, though stores are only allowed 30% capacity.

Read more: 5 retailers not named Amazon or Walmart that have quietly flourished during the pandemic by growing e-commerce, staff size, and total store footprint

Colleges and high schools must end all in-person teaching, but elementary and middle schools will remain open with strict safety measures, such as wearing masks, pending discussions with local authorities. Michigan hasn't seen many outbreaks connected to elementary and middle schools, state officials said, and these children are most in need of in-person teaching.

On November 10, the state recorded 57 COVID-19 deaths – the highest daily total since early May. Its mid-November death rate is four times higher than it was in early October.

"If we don't act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed," Governor Gretchen Whitmer said.

"As hard as it is, not seeing them this Thanksgiving, imagine how much harder it would be if you couldn't see them for a future holiday ever again," she said at a press conference.

Soon after Whitmer made her remarks, White House COVID-19 advisor Scott Atlas reacted by tweeting: "The only way this stops is if people rise up." 

He later said he was not urging violence.

Washington's new restrictions

Governor Jay Inslee announced Washington's four-week partial lockdown Sunday as cases continue to rise in the state. Over the weekend, Washington reported more than 2,000 cases a day, and average cases in the state have doubled over the past two weeks.

"This spike puts us in a more dangerous a position as we were in March," Inslee said during a press conference Sunday.

"And it means, unfortunately, the time has come to reinstate restrictions on activities statewide to preserve the public's well-being, and to save lives."

From Tuesday, gyms across the state will have to shut and outdoor fitness classes will face restrictions.

Leisure and entertainment facilities such as bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums will have to close.

Stores will remain open, but only at 25% capacity.

Outdoor social gatherings will be limited to six people from different households, and indoor gatherings with people from different households are only allowed if they quarantine for fourteen days, or receive a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of the gathering.

From Wednesday, restaurants and bars will also no longer be able to offer dine-in services. Diners can eat outside, but only five are allowed per table.

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