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Michigan health officials issue coronavirus regulations mirroring Gov. Whitmer’s previous orders

New MDHHS order in effect through Oct. 30

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

LANSING, Mich – Michigan health officials have issued several coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations that mirror those previously put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before they were shot down by the state’s Supreme Court.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon issued the new order to restrict gathering sizes, require face masks in public spaces and childcare facilities, limit capacity in businesses and create safer workplaces, officials announced.

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It’s in effect until at least Oct. 30, according to MDHHS.

“Our goal is to maintain policies that have made a drastic difference in the fight against COVID-19,” Gordon said. “Cases are rising, and the science is clear. Masks reduce the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing reduces the spread of COVID-19. Public action is critical to saving Michiganders' lives.”

MDHHS issued an order earlier this week to reestablish some COVID-19 safety protocols, but this order returns the state largely to the position it was in before the Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court ruled that the 1945 law Whitmer used to issue orders without the approval of legislators unconstitutional. MDHHS is issuing this order under the authority enacted by legislators Spanish Flu of 1918, which specifically pertains to epidemics.

New regulations that weren’t outlined in Monday’s order include capacity limits in businesses, masks in childcare centers, new protections for workers and requirements for contact tracing.

Mask rules

Masks must be worn during any gatherings at businesses, offices, schools, childcare facilities, sporting events and other non-residential events, officials said.

Businesses aren’t allowed to admit anyone who doesn’t wear a face covering, with few exceptions.

The mask requirement applies for organized gatherings larger than 10 inside and 100 outside.

Capacity limits

In every Michigan region except for Region 6 (the Traverse City Region), gatherings at retail stores, libraries and museums can’t exceed 50% of the maximum capacity.

Gatherings at sporting and exercise facilities can’t exceed 25% of the occupancy limits. There must be at least six feet of distance between workout stations, officials said.

Non-tribal casinos can fill up to 15% capacity.

Restaurants can’t seat more than 50% of their maximum capacity. They can only serve alcohol to parties who are seated, six feet apart and remain separate.

These limits apply to indoor and outdoor gatherings, according to authorities.

Workplace regulations

Anyone who is in isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure, symptoms, or test results cannot go to work with others, officials said.

Employers are not allowed to require those people to go to work in person with anyone else present, authorities said.

To help with contact tracing, many businesses continue to be required to maintain accurate records of the names, contact information, date and time of entry of all visitors.

These businesses, which include sports and entertainment facilities and places of public amusement, theaters and cinemas, concert halls, sporting venues, stadiums, amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, skating rinks, and trampoline parks, must deny entry to anyone who doesn’t provide their name and phone number.

Whitmer’s orders

“Due to the effectiveness of the policies initiated by Gov. Whitmer, and to minimize confusion following the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling, MDHHS has maintained policy under executive orders as much as possible in its new order,” the executive order reads.

That means capacity limits and rules for sports remain the same, as to mask and social distancing requirements.

The Traverse City Region is still under regulations that are slightly less strict than the rest of the state.

There are no longer bar closures, but bars can only serve alcohol to gatherings seated at tables.

Local health departments and law enforcement officers are authorized to investigate and enforce the terms of this order.

Violations of the order are a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to six months in prison, a fine of up to $200 or a civil fine of up to $1,000.

The order is in effect now through Oct. 30.


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