Michigan revises COVID-19 order to reopen high schools, some entertainment venues

New state order in effect until Jan. 15

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a Dec. 18, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a Dec. 18, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the state is revising its COVID-19 order to resume in-person high school classes, reopen certain indoor entertainment venues and allow non-contact outdoor sports and fitness classes.

MORE: Here’s everything that’s reopening under Michigan’s revised COVID-19 order

The state is currently under a “pause” that placed stricter COVID-19 regulations on restaurants, schools and more, but that order was scheduled to expire Sunday (Dec. 20).

Now, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued a revised version of the order, which will be in effect until Jan. 15.

What’s reopening

High school classes can return to school buildings starting Monday (Dec. 21), Whitmer said.

Indoor venues where people can remain masked and socially distanced -- movie theaters, stadiums, bowling alleys, casinos -- can reopen without food or drink concessions.

READ: COVID-19 restrictions stay the same for Michigan restaurants as other venues prepare to reopen

Total capacity at those indoor venues will be capped at 100. Visitors must keep masks on and practice social distancing, according to Whitmer.

Outdoor group fitness classes and outdoor non-contact sports are also allowed to resume, the state announced.

Gatherings at indoor ice and roller rinks are not allowed, except for individual exercise or one-on-one instruction, where occupancy is limited to two people per 1,000 square feet, including within the exercise space.

Gatherings at outdoor ice and roller rinks are permitted, except for organized contact sports, as long as occupancy is limited to two people per 1,000 square feet, including within the exercise space.

LATEST: Michigan Republicans ‘condemn’ decision to keep many businesses closed through holidays

Gatherings for the purpose of non-contact sports and open skating are permitted only at outdoor rinks.

Indoor residential gatherings are still limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with.

More on new order

While the new order is in effect until Jan. 15, Whitmer said the state will “seriously consider” lifting the protocols sooner if the state makes substantial progress toward slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“These past few weeks, Michiganders across the state stepped up and did their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, and because of our collective hard work, we are now able to begin the steps to carefully lift some of the protocols we have in place,” Whitmer said. “I am encouraged by the progress we have made since early November, and will continue to monitor the data closely during and after the holidays.

“One of the most important things Michiganders can do right now is make a plan to get the safe and effective vaccine as soon as it’s available to you. And as always: mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person. We will eradicate this virus together.”

“We have made some progress in our fight against this pandemic, and this was a historical week as we started to distribute life-saving vaccines,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “It is important that everyone continues to do their part. Start planning for when you will get a vaccine when it is available to you, and let’s avoid a surge in cases after the holidays by avoiding gatherings, wearing our masks, and continuing to socially distance.”

Since the restrictions first went into effect Nov. 18, Michigan has seen case, hospitalization and positivity rates decrease dramatically, though the numbers are still higher than health experts would like to see.


About the Author: