MDHHS issues three-week order restricting gatherings, schools, restaurants, more

MICHIGAN — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order to take place for three weeks, beginning Wednesday, to limit indoor social gatherings and other group activities, as a response to rising COVID-19 infection rates.

“We have three weeks to see if we can all do our part and see if we can make a real difference. Let’s do it together,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during an address, which began at 6 p.m. Sunday evening. “For months, we have been sounding the alarm on the heightened dangers of the fall and winter surge, fueled by more contacts than ever, the convergence of that with school, complicated by flu season, and accelerated by low temperatures driving us all inside. We are in the worst moment of this pandemic to date. The situation has never been more dire. We are at the precipice and we need to take some action.”

The gatherings and face mask order begins Wednesday, and is enacted for three weeks.  The order includes closes workplaces when the work may be done remotely.

According to the order, indoor gatherings are prohibited at residential venues, “except where no more than 10 persons from no more than two households are gathered.”

Indoor gatherings are prohibited at non-residential venues during this period of time, as well, according to the order.

The order states that outdoor gatherings are permitted, with certain guidelines such as 25 or fewer persons at a residential venue, with people attending from no more than three households.

Gatherings

At non-residential venues, 25 or fewer people may gather at a venue without fixed seating, with an attendance limit of 20 persons per 1,000 square feet. For a non-residential venue with fixed seating, 25 or fewer people may gather, but attendance is limited to 20 percent of seating capacity.

According to the order, theaters, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas are not to be open. Other entertainment and sports complexes like bowling centers, ice skating rinks, indoor water parks, bingo halls, arcades, casinos, group fitness classes, organized sports, with the exception for professional sports will be closed. Restaurants and bars were also ordered to be closed for indoor service.

Schools and Educational Institutions

The order addresses schools specifically and allows for public, nonpublic and boarding schools to continue in-person instruction for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, with mask regulations in place. Students in grades from ninth to 12th will be prohibited from in-person instruction, sports and extracurricular activities.

Food distribution, internet access, physical and mental health care services and child care services are permitted for institutions to provide for students in need.

Colleges and universities are also prohibited for the three-week period from holding in-person classes, extracurricular activities and other events.

Further restrictions were named in the order for establishments like retail stores, libraries and museums to keep occupancy at or below 30 percent.

Gyms and exercise facilities may remain open, but must not exceed 25 percent of the total occupancy limits. The order stated there must be 12 feet of distance at minimum between occupied workout stations. Indoor and outdoor pools must adhere to not exceed 25 percent occupancy.

Healthcare

Waiting areas for outpatient healthcare facilities, veterinary clinics and similar are prohibited unless it is possible to keep a 6-foot distance between those who are not in the same household unit. The order said, to the extent possible, patients must wait in their cars for their appointments.

Personal care services

For personal care services, “including hair, nail, tanning, massage, traditional spa, tattoo, body art, and piercing services and similar personal care services,” services may continue on an appointment-only basis, so long as services do not involve the removal of face masks.

Sports

Spectators are not permitted at any sports. The order effectively puts a pause on all sports for the three-week period, outside of professional sports.

Any organized sports, not at the professional level, are prohibited for the three-week period unless all participants, teams and venues comply with the enhanced testing regimen outlined in the Additional Mitigation Measures for Safer Athletic Practice and Play without the use of Face Covering section of the MDHHS guidance on Additional Measures for Safer Athletic Practice and Play. This includes COVID-19 testing of all active players to be conducted at a minimum of six times per week, with a turnaround time within a day.

The full order may be read at Michigan.gov/coronavirus.

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