State health department reinstates mask mandate, gathering limitations in most of Michigan

(WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced they are instituting restrictions on gathering sizes, requiring face coverings in public spaces, and placing limitations on bars and other venues in Michigan.

The orders reinstitute a number of measures that were in place under executive orders put into place by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Those orders were ruled invalid by the Michigan Supreme Court on Friday. Governor Whitmer has asked the court for clarification on when their decision goes into effect.

Today’s Emergency Orders by MDHHS are put into place under a Michigan law that was enacted after the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918, which was not at issue in the Supreme Court’s decision. It allows the Director of MDHHS to protect public health by prohibiting gatherings and establishing procedures during an epidemic.

Any violation is a misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail or a $200 fine.

The measures put in place today include:

  • Requirements to wear masks at indoor and outdoor gatherings: The order requires individuals to wear masks when in gatherings, defined as any occurrence where persons from multiple households are present in a shared space in a group of two or more, and requires businesses and government offices to enforce those requirements for gatherings on their premises. The order also requires the wearing of masks at schools, except for in Michigan Economic Recovery Council Region 6.
  • Limitations on the size of gatherings: The order reinstates limitations on gathering sizes that mirror the requirements that Governor Whitmer had previously put in place. These include indoor gatherings of more than 10 and up to 500 people occurring at a non-residential venue are permitted within the following limits:
  • In venues with fixed seating, limit attendance to 20% of normal capacity. However, gatherings up to 25% of normal capacity are permitted in Michigan Economic Recovery Council Region 6.
  • In venues without fixed seating, limit attendance to 20 persons per 1,000 square feet in each occupied room. However, gatherings of up to 25 persons per 1,000 square feet are permitted in Michigan Economic Recovery Council Region 6.
  • Non-residential outdoor gatherings of between 100 and 1,000 persons at venues with fixed seating are permitted at up to 30% of normal capacity and at 30 persons per 1,000 square feet at venues without fixed seating.
  • Limitations on certain establishments: Although the order does not close bars, it requires them to close indoor common areas where people can congregate, dance or otherwise mingle. Indoor gatherings are prohibited anywhere alcoholic beverages are sold except for table services where parties are separated from one another by at least six feet.
  • In addition, athletes training or practicing for or competing in an organized sport must wear a facial covering, except when swimming, or consistently maintain six feet of social distance.

“When it comes to fighting COVID-19, we are all in this together. We need Michiganders everywhere to do their part by wearing masks and practicing safe physical distancing so we can keep our schools and small businesses open and protect the brave men and women serving on the front lines of this crisis,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a news release. “The epidemic order that Director Gordon issued today is an important step to protect Michiganders across the state from the spread of COVID-19. Let’s all mask up and stay safe.”

Today’s orders will remain in effect through Friday, October 30.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s orders since the outbreak, coronavirus’ impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.

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