As coronavirus restrictions ease and visitors once again flock to their favorite Up North destinations, many Michigan travelers have questions about what to expect and how to vacation safely.
Ahead, we’ve outlined the best ways to have fun and stay safe while still enjoying your vacation to the White Lake area. While this summer’s “new normal” may change a few things about your trip, there’s still much to enjoy!
Please note, this information was lasted updated on 7/31/2020.
FAQs: Vacationing in Northern Michigan & the White Lake Area
Q: Can I vacation in Michigan right now?
A: Yes, it is safe to travel in Michigan. The White Lake area is open, and despite a few restrictions, it’s safe to enjoy most outdoor activities and indoor shopping and dining.
Q: Are restaurants open in White Lake?
A: Most restaurants in the area are open, take-out service is available but not all are offering dine-in service. It depends on the establishment. Per state guidelines, any restaurant that offers dine-in service must limit their dining room capacity by 50%. A minimum of six feet must be placed between all parties (individuals or groups at tables and bar tops). Also, self-serve areas, like salad bars and drink stations must remain closed. You may want to double check with your favorite restaurant beforehand.
Q: Do you have to wear a mask at restaurants?
A: Yes. As of July 13, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered that face coverings must be worn in restaurants (both indoor and outdoor seating). The specific order states that everyone “must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth … when in any indoor public space [and] … when outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household.”
You do not have to wear a face covering at a restaurant:
- If you are “younger than five years old”
- “While you are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment”
Please note: All public restaurants, shops, and other businesses throughout Michigan must follow this order, or they face penalties. Therefore, they are required to refuse entry and/or service to anyone who refuses to wear the proper face coverings. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are limited (see the order for more details). Furthermore, anyone who willfully violates this state order may face a $500 criminal penalty.
Q: With limited seating capacity, what if you have to wait for a table?
A: According to state mandates, restaurant waiting areas must be closed. So, if you go to a restaurant that’s busy and has a waiting list, you’ll be asked to wait in your car or elsewhere until your table is ready. Each restaurant will have a different procedure, so plan ahead if unsure!
Q: Can you get take-out food in White Lake?
A: Yes. In fact, some restaurants that normally offer dine-in service have opted to close their dining rooms temporarily and are only offering take-out. These establishments have implemented new safety practices to make ordering and pickup super easy for customers.
When ordering and picking up your food, remember that all restaurants have adopted different strategies. Most places have clear information on how to order and pick up on their websites or social media pages. Signs posted at entrances should also point you in the right direction, or you can always give them a call.
Q: Are farmers’ markets open?
A: Michigan farmers’ markets are open. While you should still social distance and masks are required, the open air of farmers’ markets makes them a great, safe place to shop for fresh, local produce and other goods.
Stop by Montague’s market Saturdays 9am – 12:30pm or Tuesdays 5pm – 7:30pm. You’ll find the market at the southeast corner of Church Street and Water Street, just a four-minute walk from our lakeside inn.
Q: Can you shop in White Lake? Do you have to wear a mask while shopping and walking around downtown areas?
A: Yes and yes. According to state guidelines, stores and shops in Michigan are allowed to be open for business. However, any store or retail establishment with in-person operations must abide by specific safety practices. Here’s what you need to know:
- First, anyone entering any store (any “indoor public space”) is required by executive order to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth. Businesses, in turn, are required by executive order to refuse entry and/or service to anyone not wearing the proper face coverings.
- As a general rule of thumb, masks are also required when walking outdoors on city sidewalks — from shop to shop, for example. This is because the order stipulates that face coverings are mandatory “when outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household.”
- There are limited exceptions for who must wear a mask and when. For instance, kids under five are not required to wear them (though masks are encouraged for children two and older). See the Governor’s order for more information.
- In addition to the mask requirements, inside shops, social distancing (keeping six feet between individuals/parties) must be enforced, and staff must limit the total number of people allowed in at a time. Smaller shops, for example, must reduce their occupancy to 25% of their normal capacity. For customers, this may mean you’ll have to wait near the door for someone to come out before you’re allowed to enter.
Q: Will summer festivals still happen?
A: Most summer festivals and large events have been cancelled for the summer.
Q: Are theaters open in White Lake?
A: Right now, theaters like the NorthStar Cinema in Whitehall and The Playhouse at White Lake remain closed.
Q: Are beaches, parks, and trails open? Do you have to wear a mask outside?
A: Yes, beaches, parks, and trails (including state parks and recreation areas) are open. Just keep in mind that some amenities you’re used to may be closed. Playgrounds, bathroom buildings, hand-washing areas, concessions, etc. are beginning to open, but drinking fountains, for example, remain closed.
As for wearing masks outside, it depends on the situation. As of July 13, 2020, Michigan law states that everyone must wear a mask in indoor public spaces and “when outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household.”
This basically means that if you’re downtown, on a beach, or on a trail where people are consistently getting within six feet of you and your family/group, then yes, masks are required. However, if you’re hiking alone, boating, riding your bike on a trail, or playing a round of golf, for example, you’re not required to wear one. Additionally, the law stipulates that you do not have to wear a mask when you “are exercising when wearing a face covering would interfere in the activity.” For more details and limited exceptions to this mandate, see Governor Whitmer’s order here.
Again, mandates are subject to change, so stay up-to-date with recent information about beaches and parks by checking the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website.
Q: Will there be changes to safety guidelines and closures this summer?
A: It’s possible guidelines and mandates will change at one time or another over the summer or as we head into fall. To stay up-to-date with the most current information, refer to the White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce website and Facebook page.