Late yesterday afternoon, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an Emergency Order restricting gathering sizes, requiring face coverings in public spaces and places limitations on bars and other venues. Under MCL 333.2253, if the MDHHS director determines that control of an epidemic is necessary to protect the public health, the director by emergency order may prohibit the gathering of people for any purpose and may establish procedures to be followed during the epidemic to insure continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws. The order is in effect until October 30.
The top aspects of the order 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 with limits.
- 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.
- Athletes training or competing in an organized sport must wear a facial covering, except when swimming, or consistently maintain six feet of social distance.
The Michigan Legislature is looking to return to session late this week or early next week as Republican leadership hurriedly compiles bills that codify certain executive orders issued by Gov. Whitmer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the top priorities are protecting workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits, ensuring COVID-19 testing procedures and allowing local governments to meet remotely for the time being.