Michigan Lifts COVID-19 Restrictions, Allows Dining in at Restaurants

On January 22, 2021, after two months of stringent lockdown orders (released 11/15/2020, 12/07/2020, 12/18/2020, & 1/13/2021), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new epidemic order significantly relaxing gathering restrictions. This order follows the plateau of COVID-19 cases in Michigan and is in anticipation of this weekend’s high school football finals. Most significantly, the order now allows the following:

Non-residential venue gatherings:

  • Two households of no more than 10 persons may gather at non-residential venues.

Entertainment venues (such as casinos, movie theaters, and stadiums):

  • Concessions may open.
    • The facility must designate areas where masks may be removed only for eating and drinking, separating tables by at least six feet, with no more than six patrons seated at a table.
  • Group activities are limited to no more than 10 persons from up to two households.
  • Patrons may not mingle with persons outside their group and must maintain a distance of at least six feet.
  • Stadium regulations have been updated for more people to attend high school football finals:
    • Stadiums hosting a sporting event that seat over 10,000 people may gather up to 500 people.
    • Stadiums hosting a sporting event that seat fewer than 10,000 people may gather up 250 people or 20% capacity.
    • For all other entertainment and recreation facilities, no more than 100 patrons may be gathered within any distinct space.

Food establishments:

  • Indoor seating capacity is limited to 25% of normal seating capacity or 100 persons, whichever is less.
  • In-door dining hours are prohibited between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
  • MDHHS’ “Dining During COVID-19” brochure must be displayed in the venue.
  • Patrons in each group must be separated by at least six feet.
  • No more than six patrons may be seated together at a table.
  • Patrons cannot gather in common areas.
  • If an employee at a food established tests positive or shows symptoms of COVID-19 while at work, the establishment must conduct a deep clean consistent with the Food Drug Administration and CDC guidance prior to re-opening.

Facemask exceptions:

  • Facemasks may be removed for personal care services when necessary.

This order takes effect on February 1, 2021 (except that the provisions regarding stadiums and arenas hosting sporting events take effect immediately) and continues through February 21, 2021. Upon effect, the previous January 13, 2021 order is rescinded. Facemask requirements, other general gathering restrictions, and contact tracing remain unchanged from the original November 15, 2020 epidemic order.

A violation of this order is punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months, or a fine of not more than $200, or both under MCL 333.2261, and/or is punishable by a civil fine of up to $1,000 for each violation or day that a violation continues under MCL 333.2262(1).

As COVID-19 cases continue plateau or decrease, we anticipate the MDHHS will continue to relax restrictions in future orders.

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.