Governor Whitmer’s most recent Safe Start Order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-176, effective September 4, 2020, states that Michigan has reached a plateau in COVID-19 case counts that allows leaders to “carefully and deliberately relax some restrictions.” Described as part of an “incremental approach,” the order rescinds the previous Safe Start order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-160, and its amending order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-162. Mich Exec Order No 2020-176 incorporates many of the prior Safe Start orders’ provisions and adds new ones relating to organized sports, gyms, and pools.
Highlights of this most recently amended order include the following:
- In all Regions except Regions 6 and 8, any work that can be performed remotely must be performed remotely.
- In Regions 6 and 8, any work that can be performed remotely should be performed remotely.
- Businesses requiring in-person work must comply with the workplace safeguards in Mich Exec Order No 2020-175, effective September 3, 2020.
- Individuals who leave their homes must follow CDC social distancing guidelines and Mich Exec Order No 2020-153 governing masks.
- Subject to a few exceptions, certain listed types of places of public accommodation including indoor theaters, performance venues, and amusement facilities are closed everywhere except Regions 6 and 8, where there are specific requirements for their operation. The limitations on these types of establishments do not apply to services necessary for medical treatment, health care facilities, crisis shelters, airport food courts, or employees, contractors, vendors, or suppliers who occupy the types of places described.
- Indoor gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, and the like are permitted to open effective September 9, 2020, subject to certain enumerated restrictions and subject to the workplace safeguards outlined in Mich Exec Order No 2020-175. Bowling alleys, roller rinks, and ice rinks may be open for the sole purpose of serving as a venue for organized sports as described in the order.
- Bars that “earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from sales of alcoholic beverages” must close for indoor service. Sales of lottery tickets do not count for purposes of calculating gross receipts.
- Dance and topless activity permits issued under MCL 436.1916(2) and (3) are temporarily suspended, and combination dance-entertainment permits and topless activity-entertainment permits issued under MCL 436.1916(4) are “suspended to the extent they allow dancing and topless activity, but remain valid to the extent they allow other entertainment.”
- Except in Regions 6 and 8, social gatherings and organized events are permitted, provided that persons not part of the same household maintain six feet of distance, indoor gatherings do not exceed 10 people, and outdoor gatherings do not exceed 100 people. These provisions on social gatherings apply to “workplace gatherings and events (such as meetings and trainings).” The 10-person indoor gathering limitation does not apply to aspects of training of law enforcement, medical, or first-responder personnel not capable of being performed remotely. It also does not apply to polling places.
- Outdoor gatherings are limited to 250 people in Regions 6 and 8. In Regions 6 and 8, certain indoor places of public accommodation may be open to spectators or patrons, provided that they arrange for distancing and limit the number of people in the venue to 25 percent of maximum capacity or 250 people, whichever is smaller. Outdoor concert spaces, sports arenas, and other like outdoor venues can be open if they allow for social distancing and limit the number of people to 25 percent of maximum capacity or 500 people, whichever is smaller.
- Organized sports, defined as “competitive athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and organized by an institution or association that sets and enforces rules to ensure the physical health and safety of all participants,” are permitted under certain enumerated circumstances. Among other things, the order requires that athletes maintain distance to the extent compatible with the sport and wear a facial covering except when swimming. Organizers must follow MDHHS guidance, implement strict limits on audiences, and prohibit sale of concessions.
- Professional sports can continue without live audiences and in accordance with a COVID-19 safety plan.
- Outdoor parks and recreational facilities may be open as long as they make modifications to allow for social distancing and close areas where six feet of distance cannot be maintained.
- Swimming pools may be open in all Regions subject to the rules in in Mich Exec Order No 2020-175. The section of the order on swimming pools is not applicable to waterparks, which are subject to the closures outlined for places of public accommodations, except in Regions 6 and 8.
- “[N]either a place of religious worship nor its owner is subject to penalty under … this order for engaging in religious worship at a place of religious worship.”
- Nothing in the order “should be taken to modify, limit, or abridge protections provided by state or federal law for a person with a disability.”