At a COVID-19 briefing that took place on March 2, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that Michigan state officials have decided to loosen COVID-19 restrictions. Restaurants, stores, gyms, entertainment venues and other establishments, including colleges, are affected by this change.
Kurt Jolly, a senior from Chelsea, is a member of the COVID-19 accountability committee on campus. The COVID-19 accountability committee is a group of students and faculty who meet weekly to review and update Albion College’s COVID-19 rules and restrictions.
Jolly explained that while Michigan restrictions definitely impact campus restrictions, Albion College does not use them as a direct guide.
“As I’m sure every student has figured out at this point, our rules and regulations as Albion College are much more extensive than the ones Michigan-wide,” Jolly said. “We must adhere to everything that Gov. Whitmer wants us to do, but we also have done a diligent job of having our own rules and regulations that have helped us keep our numbers on campus very low.”
Due to the gaps between state rules and college rules, only certain campus regulations will change. One set of campus protocols that has been updated in alignment with Gov. Whitmer’s announcement is the outdoor gathering limits. This allows for increased maximum capacity in outdoor areas, such as 150 individuals in the quad and 25 individuals at the outdoor fire pits.
“Those limitations have been lifted a little bit, so there will be more ability to have, in terms of Greek life, more mixers outside, as well as gatherings outside for sporting events and other clubs and organizations,” Jolly said.
As far as dining, restaurants in Michigan can now operate at 50% capacity as opposed to 25%. This could impact the restrictions currently placed upon designated eating spots on campus, such as Baldwin Hall and the Kellogg Center.
“As for Baldwin, they will eventually increase the number allowed in there,” Jolly said. “I just don’t know if people will actually be able to sit at the same table or if they’re going to open up more tables around the facility.”
Along with restaurants, bowling alleys are also cleared to open at 50% capacity. There is a desire among students for University Lanes in Albion to become one of the approved Together Safely businesses.
“I have not heard anything specifically about that, and it has not been brought up at our committee meetings, but I’m sure it’ll be brought up this week because I just started hearing rumors about it over the last couple of days,” Jolly said.
As restrictions begin to loosen on campus, the COVID-19 accountability committee stresses the importance of continuing to wear masks and practice social distancing; taking careful steps forward will prevent the need to take steps backward in the future.