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Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan governor, weighs letting businesses reopen after five months

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday that her administration is assessing the risk of reopening Michigan businesses that have been closed for five months under her orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus, saying she will have more to say next week.

Movie theaters, gyms and indoor pools are among the places that remain barred from operating amid the pandemic. The Democratic governor told reporters her office is working with the state health department to “drill down” into businesses that are closed, “where we can do another assessment on risk mitigation and determine if we might consider making some improvements in the policy.”

Whitmer said other states have taken “bad” steps that “we don’t want to do,” but there are “perhaps some things that they have done and been successful.” She has come under criticism from the owners of theaters and fitness clubs for letting Detroit casinos reopen at limited capacity about two weeks ago while keeping their businesses shut.

The governor made her comments after announcing that Michigan will allocate $ 60 million in federal virus relief aid to school districts where more than half of the students are economically disadvantaged. An additional $ 5.4 million will go to other education-related entities. The dollars come from an emergency education fund set aside for governors in the U.S. rescue package and are in addition to $ 530 million previously allocated to schools and teachers.

Districts’ funding will be based on their numbers of low-income, special education and English language learners. Whitmer and the Republican-led Legislature have yet to tell schools’ their funding for the fiscal year that starts in less than a month and a half, however, as they hold out hope for more federal aid while facing a projected $ 3 billion shortfall.

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