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Community updates: Wednesday, July 29

Gov. Whitmer limits indoor gatherings to 10 people, closes indoor bar service across Michigan; Grand Rapids nears August 4 primary elections; and The Rapid implementing fare payment changes on August 1.
"Motu Viget" sculpture by Mark di Suvero, near Grand Rapids' City Hall.

"Motu Viget" sculpture by Mark di Suvero, near Grand Rapids' City Hall. /Experience Grand Rapids

Gov. Whitmer limits indoor gatherings to 10 people, closes indoor bar service across Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued executive orders on Wednesday limiting Michigan's indoor gatherings to 10 people and closing indoor bar service across all of the state.

The orders come in response to a statewide resurgence in new COVID-19 cases, with one of the orders also limiting outdoor gatherings to 100 people for most of Michigan, including the Grand Rapids region. Exceptions to the 100 people limit for outdoor gatherings are the Traverse City and Upper Peninsula regions, whose limits remain 250.

As we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Michiganders cannot afford to drop our guard," said Whitmer. "We must take every step possible to save lives, protect the brave men and women on the front lines, and avoid overwhelming our healthcare system while we continue to combat COVID-19."

Whitmer's administration and state health officials closely associate the virus' resurgence across Michigan with "super-spreader events" at large social gatherings, often attended by young people. An outbreak at a Lansing bar resulted in 187 cases, a single house party in Saline in over 50 cases, and a sandbar party at Torch Lake over the July 4 weekend in at least 43 cases.

"After seeing a resurgence in cases connected to social gatherings across the state, we must further limit gatherings for the health of our community and economy," the governor continued. "By taking these strong actions, we will be better positioned to get our children back into classrooms and avoid a potentially devastating second wave.”

While Grand Rapidians already had their region's indoor bar service closed for bars earning more than 70% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales, this same restriction now includes all of Michigan. The Traverse City and Upper Peninsula regions were previously exempt.

Despite Michigan's overall resurgence in COVID-19 cases, the State of Michigan moved the Grand Rapids region to the "medium-high risk" category on its MI Safe Start Map on Friday, after a two week reduction in the region's new cases and a declining test positivity rate. The region had been in the "high risk" category since early July.

Whitmer's full orders issued on Wednesday are available on the Executive Orders page on her official website.


Grand Rapids nears August 4 primary elections

Grand Rapidians will have their next chance to choose candidates for certain federal, state, and county offices during primary elections on August 4. Those winning the contested races will move on to the November 3 general election.

All 76 of Grand Rapids' voting precincts will be open for in-person voting on August 4 from 7am-8pm, with absentee voting also an option.

Voters who have received their absentee ballots are encouraged to return them as soon as possible,” the City of Grand Rapids said in a Tuesday statement. Local clerks recently mailed out ballots with return instructions to voters who applied and were approved for absentee voting for next week’s election.

The City Clerk’s office will be open to issue absentee ballots and to accept voter registrations on Saturday from 7am-3pm. Voters may either go to City Hall or to Election Central located at 201 Market Ave. SW.

Both the Democratic and Republican candidates are listed on the same ballot, so voters must either vote for candidates in the Democratic column or the Republican column. They’ll be prohibited from voting in both columns.

To ensure public safety amid pandemic concerns, each precinct will follow guidelines laid out by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Kent County Health Department. Among the guidelines are regularly disinfecting common touchpoint areas, offering hand sanitizer to all voters entering and exiting voting sites, and providing all poll workers with face shields, face coverings, and disposable gloves.

More details about Grand Rapids’ August 4 primary and voting sites are available on the City of Grand Rapids’ website.


The Rapid implementing fare payment changes on August 1

The Rapid bus service announced several fare payment changes on Wednesday that will begin for its riders August 1.

Changes to bus fare payments include:

  • The elimination of free transfers for riders paying cash fare.
  • The elimination of change cards for riders paying cash fare without exact change.
  • The elimination of the fare free zone on the Silver Line in downtown Grand Rapids.
  • The elimination of fare free service on Route 19 (Michigan Crosstown), which is currently not in service.

The Rapid provided notice of these changes and began collecting rider feedback in mid-June, with four public meetings to receive further rider feedback held in early July at Rapid Central Station.

The cost to ride The Rapid is not changing, and cash fare will always be accepted as a form of payment,” the bus service said. “These changes mean that cash-paying customers will no longer receive a change card if they board without exact change, and they will no longer have the option of a free transfer.”

However,” The Rapid added, “Wave card users can utilize unlimited transfers for one hour and 45 minutes after boarding. GO!Bus paratransit service is unaffected by these changes.”

More details about The Rapids’ fare payment changes are available on its website.


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