LANSING, Mich. – Michigan has updated its COVID-19 rules for gatherings, mask wearing, certain events and organized sports.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday night that it has adjusted its epidemic order as COVID-19 cases across the state slowly start to decline.
These new rules will go into effect Thursday (May 6) and last through May 31, state officials said.
Starting Thursday, masks are “generally not required” during outdoor gatherings unless there are 100 or more people.
Experts said they still recommend wearing masks at outdoor gatherings with people from other households, but that will technically no longer be required as part of the MDHHS face masks epidemic order.
The risk of spreading COVID-19 is considered much lower outdoors, so this update to the mask rules follows a pattern of Michigan reopening outdoor activities earlier than their indoor counterparts.
Vaccinated people at indoor gatherings
Under the updated order, anyone who is fully vaccinated and not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms can attend residential gatherings -- both indoor and outdoor -- without a mask.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for MDHHS, has said throughout the pandemic that just because something is allowed doesn’t necessarily mean it’s recommended. MDHHS continues to urge Michiganders to follow CDC guidance, even where not specifically required by an epidemic order.
“Getting your vaccine is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community,” Khaldun said. “Vaccines give you the freedom and peace of mind to be able to do more things, but we still have work to do to reach our goal of vaccinating at least 70% of residents ages 16 and up.”
Residential outdoor gatherings
Up to 50 people are allowed to attend residential outdoor gatherings, the state announced.
In places where the density of crowds doesn’t exceed 20 people per 1,000 square feet of usable outdoor space, up to 300 people are allowed to gather, according to a state release.
Masks are still required for contact sports, but they’re no longer required for outdoor practices and games for non-contact sports, the state announced.
An example the state provided: Softball and baseball players have to wear masks in their dugouts, but not while at bat or playing first base.
In addition, new guidance for organized sports no longer requires routine COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated participants if they aren’t experiencing symptoms.
“The commitment by Michiganders to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is allowing us to move toward a return to normal,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said. “The vaccines work. That means once Michiganders are fully vaccinated, they do not have to abide by as many health guidelines because of the protection the vaccine provides from the spread of the virus.”
Large outdoor events
Large outdoor events -- festivals, fairs and golf tournaments -- will now be allowed to exceed the current limit of 1,000 people as long as organizers create and post a safety plan that follows MDHHS guidance, the state announced.
These events can’t allow a gathering of more than 20 people per 1,000 square feet in any space.
State officials said this change is among those being made to encourage outdoor events.
Outdoor stadiums and arenas
Any stadiums complying with enhanced COVID-19 protocols set by the state are allowed to fill up to 20% of their fixed seating capacity. The state release says those stadiums can host up to 8,000 people.
At stadiums and arenas with fixed seating capacities of 5,000 or greater that do not have enhanced protocols, up to 1,000 people can gather, state officials said. That limit was previously 750.
Stadiums and arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 10,000 or greater that do not have enhanced protocols can have up to 1,500 people.