May 6 MDHHS Order Eases Some Mask and Gathering Restrictions

By Rebekah Page-Gourley posted 05-05-2021 10:14


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new Gatherings and Face Mask Order effective May 6, 2021, through May 31, 2021, replacing the previous order. The new order is largely the same as previous orders but loosens some mask requirements and gathering restrictions. The MDHHS also issued the following supplemental materials: a Choosing Safer Activities infographic, a capacity limits fact sheet, and Large Outdoor Events Guidance.

May 6 MDHHS Gatherings and Face Mask Order Updates

Highlights of the May 6 order include the following (items in bold indicate provisions not in the previous order):

  • A number of terms are defined, including child-care organization, gathering, household, indoors, and symptoms of COVID-19.

    The list includes a definition for fully vaccinated persons:

    “Fully vaccinated persons” means persons for whom at least two weeks has passed after receiving the final dose of an FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

    It also includes definitions for stadiums and arenas (which means “venues with fixed seating for at least 5,000 spectators”).
  • Indoor gatherings are permitted at residential venues only if no more than 15 people from no more than three households are gathered. Indoor gatherings at nonresidential venues are prohibited except where no more than 25 people are gathered.
  • At residential venues, outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted, or if density does not exceed 20 persons per 1,000 square feet of outdoor space, up to 300 people may be gathered. At nonresidential venues, outdoor gatherings are permitted if there are 300 or fewer people.
  • Exceptions to the limitations on gatherings are enumerated:
    • incidental gatherings at airports, malls, and the like
    • workplace gatherings consistent with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) Emergency Rules issued October 14, 2020, and subsequently extended (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 at residential care facilities, subject to the March 17, 2021, 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
    • gatherings of public bodies and attendees of meetings held by public bodies in compliance with the Open Meetings Act, MCL 15.261 et seq.
  • Organizers and facilities are required to 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 25 persons indoors or 300 persons outdoors.
    • Patrons must be prevented from mingling or engaging in physical contact with people outside their group.
    • Patrons must maintain six feet of distance from all other groups and must be separate from other groups while eating.
    • Venues must abide by specific density limitations, including limiting occupancy to 50 percent of the limits established by the fire marshal and maintaining six feet of distance between groups.
    • Venues must also abide by maximum capacity limitations: For indoor entertainment and recreational facilities, no more than 300 patrons may be gathered in any distinct space. For outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities and for outdoor stadiums and arenas (with certain exceptions), no more than 1,000 patrons may be gathered. At indoor stadiums and arenas with a fixed seating capacity over 10,000, no more than 750 patrons may be gathered. At outdoor stadiums and arenas with a fixed seating capacity of up to 10,000, no more than 1,000 patrons may be gathered. At outdoor stadiums and arenas with a fixed seating capacity of greater than 10,000, no more than 1,500 patrons may be gathered. At outdoor stadiums and arenas that establish and abide by an infection control plan complying with MDHHS’s Large Outdoor Events Guidance, issued May 4, 2021, gatherings may not exceed 20 percent of the venue’s fixed seating capacity or 20 persons per 1,000 square feet, whichever is greater. The order includes other specifications for such stadiums and arenas, including requiring a testing program as specified in the MDHHS publication titled Interim Guidance for Athletics issued May 4, 2021.
  • Gatherings are prohibited at food service establishments, whether indoor or outdoor, unless there are designated dining areas with specific distancing and seating designations; patrons may not gather or mingle in common areas; and indoor dining venue may not exceed 50 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 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 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 principal symptoms while at work, a gathering at that food service establishment is prohibited until “the food service establishment has been deep cleaned consistent with Food and Drug Administration and [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance.”
  • Gatherings at nontribal casinos may not exceed 30 percent of total occupancy limits.
  • A gathering at a retail setting, library, or museum must not exceed 50 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 and outdoor dining, including food courts, must comply with the requirements for food service establishments in the order.
  • Exercise facilities may operate at 30 percent of total occupancy limits, there must be six 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 pool not otherwise prohibited by this order must not exceed 30 percent of bather capacity limits described in AC, R 325.2193. Gatherings at an outdoor pool not otherwise prohibited by the order may not exceed 50 percent of capacity limits.
  • Gatherings at ice and roller rinks are permitted provided that occupancy is limited to 10 people 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 Interim Guidance for Athletics issued May 4, 2021.
    • Gatherings for sports practices and competitions are prohibited unless participants maintain six 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 in MDHHS’s document Interim Guidance for Athletics issued May 4, 2021.
    • Beginning on April 2, 2021, gatherings for the purpose of sports practice and competition involving people age 13 to 19 are prohibited unless all such people participate in a testing program as specified in the MDHHS publication entitled Interim Guidance for Athletics issued May 4, 2021.
  • Face masks are required at all gatherings, subject to numerous exceptions. Childcare organizations and camps must not allow gatherings unless face masks are worn by all staff, a good-faith effort is made to ensure that children from two to four years of age wear masks when participating in gatherings, and children five years of age and older wear a mask when participating in gatherings. Participants in gatherings for exercise, group fitness, or organized sports must comply with the MDHHS’s Interim Guidance for Athletics issued May 4, 2021. The list of exceptions to the face mask requirements includes children under the age of two and individuals engaging in an activity that requires them to remove their mask and are “in a facility that provides ventilation that meets or exceeds 60 ft3/min of outdoor airflow per person,” as well as individuals at a residential gathering where all persons are “fully vaccinated and not experiencing the principal symptoms of COVID-19.” There are also exceptions for those participating in noncontact sports practice or competition outdoors, as well as individuals at an outdoor gathering with fewer than 100 persons, unless otherwise required to mask as an organized sport participant under the order.
  • Contact tracing requirements are specified 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 consume food or beverages on the premises at the date and time of entry.
  • As with prior orders, nothing prohibits religious worship.
  • Violations of the order are punishable by a civil fine of up to $1,000. (The current order omits the language making this fine applicable “for each violation or day that a violation continues.”)