New MDHHS Order Effective Feb 8 Amends Restrictions on Organized Sports Gatherings

By Noah C. Hagan posted 28 days ago


On February 4, 2021, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new Gatherings and Face Mask Order, effective February 8 through March 29, 2021, replacing the previous order. The new order outlines requirements for gathering for sports competitions and practices. The MDHHS also issued the following supplemental materials: Gathering Guidelines infographic, Sports and COVID-19 infographic, Stay Safe & Healthy in the Pandemic Guide, and Epidemic Order FAQs.

February 4 MDHHS Gatherings and Face Mask Order Updates

Highlights of the February 4 order include the following (items in bold indicate provisions not in the previous order):

  • Definitions of a number of terms, including child-care organization, gathering, household, and symptoms of COVID-19. The list includes a definition for indoors (“‘Indoors’ means within a space that is fully or partially enclosed on the top, and fully or partially enclosed on two or more contiguous sides. Additionally, in a space that is fully or partially enclosed on the top, and fully or partially enclosed on two non-contiguous sides, any part of that space that is more than 8 feet from an open side is indoors.”). It also includes definitions for contact sports, competition, as well as practice (which means a training session for a game of skill, involving only members of a single team).
  • Prohibition of indoor gatherings at nonresidential venues except where no more than 10 people from no more than two households are gathered. Gatherings are permitted at residential venues only if no more than 10 people from no more than two households are gathered. Such gatherings should be held consistent with MDHHS’s Social Gathering Guidance, which includes limiting time indoors and wearing a mask when not eating or drinking.
  • Prohibition of outdoor gatherings at residential venues unless there are 25 or fewer people from no more than three households. At nonresidential venues, outdoor gatherings are permitted if there are 25 or fewer people at venues without fixed seating (limited to 20 people per 1,000 square feet) and 25 or fewer people at venues with fixed seating (limited to 20 percent of seating capacity of the venue).
  • Enumerated exceptions to the limitations on gatherings:
    • incidental gatherings at airports, malls, and the like
    • gatherings between an employee and a customer for the purpose of receiving service o workplace gatherings consistent with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) Emergency Rules issued October 14, 2020 (Note that under the MIOSHA emergency rules, employers must “create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.)
    • voting or official election-related activity
    • certain trainings that cannot be conducted remotely
    • pre-K through 8th grade education and support services
    • childcare organizations and camps, including after-school programs
    • public transportation
    • gatherings for medical treatment, including mental health and substance abuse treatment
    • gatherings of up to 25 people for a funeral
    • gatherings at residential care facilities, subject to the October 21, 2020, epidemic order, regarding requirements for residential facilities or any replacement to it
    • CPR courses and proctored nationally administered admissions certification examinations, under certain conditions
    • Gatherings at entertainment and recreational facilities, including gatherings for sports practice and competition, that comply with the order’s restrictions
    • Gatherings for the purposes of indoor group fitness, exercise, or sports that comply with the particular gathering and organized sports restrictions in the order
    • Gatherings for public health or other emergency purposes
  • Requirements that organizers and facilities design gatherings to encourage and maintain physical distancing.
  • Gatherings at entertainment and recreational facilities are prohibited unless patrons abide by specific requirements and distancing protocols, including the following:
    • Patrons must wear masks except while eating and drinking
    • Patrons participating in activities together may not exceed 10 persons from up to two households
    • Patrons must be prevented from mingling or engaging in physical contact with people outside of their group
    • Patrons must maintain 6 feet of distance from all other groups and must be separate from other groups while eating
    • Venues must abide by specific density limitations and capacity limitations as outlined in the order
  • Gatherings are prohibited at food service establishments unless there are designated dining areas with specific distancing and seating designations, patrons cannot gather or mingle in common areas, and indoor dining venue does not exceed 25 percent of normal seating capacity or 100 persons, whichever is less. This limitation does not apply to soup kitchens and shelters. Food service establishments must close between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. and must display the MDHHS “Dining During COVID-19” brochure prominently. If an employee of a food service establishing tests positive for COVID-19 or shows symptoms while at work, “a gathering at that food service establishment is prohibited until the food service establishment has been deep cleaned consistent with [FDA] and CDC guidance.”
  • Retail stores, libraries, and museums may operate at 30 percent of total occupancy limits but may permit one customer at a time to enter if strict adherence to this rule would result in closure. Retail stores must establish lines to enforce distancing. Any spaces for indoor dining, including food courts, must comply with the requirements for food service establishments in the order.
  • Exercise facilities may operate at 25 percent of total occupancy limits, there must be 6 feet of distance between each occupied work station, and the physical layout of the space must allow exercisers to move between stations while maintaining distancing. Group fitness classes are permitted indoors and outdoors, provided that participants distance and wear a face mask at all times.
  • Gatherings in outpatient waiting rooms are permitted with distancing regulations. To the extent possible, this should include asking patrons to wait in their cars until called.
  • Gatherings at an indoor or outdoor pool not otherwise prohibited by the order may not exceed 25 percent of capacity limits.
  • Gatherings at ice and roller rinks are permitted provided that occupancy is limited to 4 persons per 1,000 square feet, including within the exercise space. Gatherings for noncontact sports and open skating are permitted.
  • Personal care service providers must provide all services by appointment. The order does not specifically prohibit services that involve the removal of face masks.
  • Gatherings at public, nonpublic, and boarding schools for in-person instruction and extracurricular activities in prekindergarten through grade 12 are permitted subject to local health department and school district authority.
  • Gatherings at colleges and universities, trade schools, and career schools are permitted for in-person classes and other institution-sponsored events, subject to the limitations in this order.
  • Gatherings for the purpose of contact sports and competition are prohibited unless all participants remain masked or, where it would be unsafe for participants to remain masked, all participants are tested consisted with the MDHHS’s document Guidance for Athletics issued February 7, 2021.
    • Gatherings for sports practices and competitions are prohibited unless participants maintain 6 feet of distance from each other when not engaged in play.
    • Gatherings of nonparticipants for the purpose of observing sports practice and competition must be held consistent with section 3 of the order.
    • Sports organizers, venues, and teams must ensure that all gatherings for sports competitions and practices comply with the gathering restrictions for entertainment facilities, recreational facilities, and food service establishments.
    • Even where it is not required, sports organizers are encouraged to administer a testing program as specified MDHHS’s document entitled Guidance for Athletics issued February 7, 2021.
  • Face masks are required at all gatherings, including private residential gatherings of more than one household. The order lists numerous exceptions to the face mask requirements. Participants in gatherings for exercise, group fitness, or organized sports must comply with the MDHHS’s Guidance for Athletics dated February 7, 2021.
  • Contact tracing requirements for gatherings at personal service providers, exercise facilities, in-home services, and more. The new order states that the data collected must not be sold or used for sales or marketing without express permission, must be protected as confidential, “[m]ust not be provided to law enforcement or immigration officials except upon receipt of a lawful subpoena from a court or other lawful court order,” and must be retained for 28 days, after which time it must be destroyed. All dine-in food service establishments must maintain accurate records of the names and phone numbers of patrons who purchase food for consumption on the premises at the date and time of entry.
  • As with prior orders, nothing prohibits religious worship.
  • As with prior orders, violations of the order are punishable by a civil violation of up to $1,000 per violation or per day of continued violation.