Michigan Extends Its Ban on Indoor Gatherings While Reopening Casinos, Theaters, and Other Recreational Facilities

On December 18, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued an emergency epidemic order rolling back some of the restrictions previously in place for Michigan businesses. The most significant changes include the reopening of “Lower Risk Recreational Facilities” like bowling alleys and casinos, and the resumption of in-person high school classes.

The following are critical takeaways for employers regarding the order:

Face Mask Requirements Remain the Same

  • Face masks continue to be required for gatherings of any kind. This includes requiring businesses, organizations, offices, and transportation providers to deny entry or service to those who refuse to wear a face mask. Those responsible for ensuring face masks are worn at entry should not assume those who are not wearing a face mask cannot medically tolerate it and seek, at a minimum, verbal confirmation.
  • Children in child care organizations or camps must wear a face mask if they are: two years of age or older on provided transportation; four years or older in indoor hallways and common areas; and five years and older in classrooms or other indoor settings.
  • Exceptions to the face mask requirement include those who: cannot medically tolerate one; are younger than age five outside of a childcare organization; are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment or at a private residence; are exercising outdoors and able to consistently maintain six feet of distance; are receiving a medical service for which removal is necessary; are asked to temporarily remove a face mask for identification purposes; are communicating with someone who is deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing and whose ability to see the mouth is essential to communication; are at a polling place for purposes of voting in an election; are engaged in religious services; or are giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience.

General Gathering Requirements Remain the Same

  • Indoor gatherings are prohibited at non-residential venues.
  • For outdoor gatherings, no more than 25 people from no more than three households may gather.
  • The limitations do not apply to: certain temporary gatherings in a shared space such as at airports, food establishments, malls, or on public transportation; workplace gatherings consistent with the MIOSHA Emergency Rules; voting activities; education and child care facilities; obtaining medical treatment; funerals (but no more than 25 people), and residential care facilities.

Gatherings at “Lower Risk Recreational Facilities” are Permitted

  • Such facilities include recreational facilities where there is not physical contact among participants, there is minimal interaction between households participating in activities, masks can be worn, and, if indoors, activities involve a low degree of exhalation or physical exertion. Examples include archery ranges, amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, casinos, theatres, and gun ranges.
  • Organizers cannot permit persons to mingle with others from outside their household.
  • Household groups are limited to six people and must remain six feet apart.
  • No food or beverages can be sold or consumed on the premises.
  • Other than stadiums and arenas hosting sporting events, recreational venues are limited to 100 people.  Venues with fixed seating must not exceed 20% capacity.  Venues without fixed seating are limited to 20 people per 1,000 square feet.

Gatherings at Other Facilities Remain the Same

  • Food establishments are restricted to outdoor dining with no more than six to a table spaced six feet apart and to custodial settings, medical facilities, school and university cafeterias, shelters, and soup kitchens with attendees seated six feet apart unless members of the same household.
  • Retail stores, libraries, or museums may not exceed 30% occupancy or one customer at a time, including regulating entry and checkout with markers for patrons to stand six feet apart.
  • Exercise facilities must not exceed 25% occupancy, with 12 feet of distance between workout stations.  Gatherings at indoor or outdoor pools must not exceed 25% of bather capacity limits.  Gatherings at indoor ice and roller rinks are only permitted for one-on-one instruction or when capacity is limited to two people per 1,000 square feet.  Gatherings at outdoor ice and roller rinks are permitted for non-contact sports, provided that capacity is limited to two people per 1,000 square feet.  Open skating is permitted only at outdoor rinks.
  • Businesses should require patients to wait in their cars for their appointments, unless the facility can ensure six feet of distance in the waiting room.
  • Non-essential personal care services (hair, nail, massage, etc.) may remain open and must limit services to those who do not require face mask removal. Services must be by appointment only and gatherings in waiting areas are prohibited.

High Schools Can Resume In-Person Instruction

  • In-person instruction for prekindergarten through grade 12 is permitted subject to local health department and school district decisions on remote learning.  Extracurricular activities are permitted as long they do not involve contact or a high degree of exhalation or physical exertion indoors where masks cannot be worn.
  • Gathering restrictions do not restrict schools from providing services to students in need, such as food distribution, access to internet, physical and mental health care services, and childcare.

Restrictions Regarding Organized Sports Remain the Same

Contact Tracing Requirements Remain the Same

  • Contact tracing is required for all exercise facilities, in-home services, and businesses providing barbering, cosmetology services, body art services, tanning services, massage services, or similar personal care services.
  • Information gathered must include, at a minimum, the patron’s name and phone number. In-home facilities must maintain business records that include date and time of service, name of client, and contact information.
  • Upon request, such data must be provided to MDHHS and local health departments to aid with contact tracing and investigation efforts.
  • The data must be retained for 28 days and destroyed thereafter. The data cannot be sold or used for sales or marketing purposes without patron consent and is protected as confidential to the fullest extent of the law.

This order took effect on December 18, 2020, and continues through January 15, 2021. Upon effect, this order rescinds the December 7, 2020 order. A violation of the order is punishable by monetary civil penalties under MCL 333.2262(1) and civil fines up to $1,000 for each violation or day that the violation continues.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.