Just hours after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer apologized after a photo popped up on social media that showed the Michigan Democrat ignoring a state COVID-19 regulation, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services announced that the rule she violated will be rescinded.
The Detroit News reported that Whitmer made it clear to reporters on Monday that the decision was “made well before the weekend.”
The rule limited those inside state restaurants to no more than six people at a table.
The photo in question showed Whitmer with about a dozen people with tables pushed together at The Landshark Bar & Grill, which is in East Lansing. The photo emerged on social media and was quickly removed, according to reports. Whitmer issued a statement on Sunday to explain the picture.
“Yesterday, I went with friends to a local restaurant,” Whitmer said in a statement obtained by the Detroit Free Press. “As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t stop to think about it. In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize.”
She said the tables were pushed together as more people arrived at the 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 Monday.
Later Monday, the Ingham County Health Department reported having received a complaint about a party at the Landshark exceeding six guests, but said it decided against enforcement action because “non-critical restaurant complaints are initially treated as education/consultation for the owner/manager.”
“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,” spokeswoman Amanda Darche said. “There is no history of similar complaints with the Landshark.”
The Detroit News reported that Whitmer avoided saying whether the restaurant should be fined as other facilities have been for breaking COVID-19 guidelines. Whitmer’s office did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.
Republicans in the GOP-led Legislature said Whitmer should rescind fines that were levied on businesses. They previously complained that the six-person limit keeps large families from eating together.
Whitmer has come under scrutiny for using a jet owned by prominent business executives and largely covering the cost with Michigan Transition 2019, a nonprofit fund that was initially established for inauguration events. The tab was $27,521, with Whitmer personally paying $855 of that amount.
JoAnne Huls, Whitmer’s chief of staff, said the account defrays the governor’s travel costs when they are consistent with the fund’s purposes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report