NEW COVID-19 GUIDANCE FOR THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all Michiganders, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon issued an Emergency Order on October 9, 2020 under section MCL 333.2253 of the Public Health Code restricting gathering sizes, requiring face coverings in public spaces and childcare facilities, placing capacity limitations on stores, bars and other public venues and providing for safer workplaces.
According to Bill Ridella, Director of the Macomb County Health Department, “We continue to support the state’s efforts combating COVID-19. The dedicated professionals at our Health Department will continue to provide the County with the most reputable and impactful resources that can aid in combating this virus and promoting public health.”
The order comes under a legal authority enacted by the Michigan Legislature after the Spanish Flu of 1918 specifically to deal with epidemics. That statute was not at issue in the Supreme Court’s ruling last week.
The order completes the major elements of the department’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. These provisions provide for capacity limits in businesses, masks in childcare centers, added protections for workers, and requirements for contact tracing.
Under the new MDHHS order:
- Masks must be worn at any gatherings occurring at businesses, offices, schools, childcare facilities, sporting events and other non-residential events. Businesses cannot admit individuals who do not wear a face covering, and there are few exceptions. The mask requirement continues to apply for organized gatherings larger than 10 indoors and 100 outdoors.
- Capacity limits apply to indoor gatherings, including business, social and recreational. Gatherings at a retail stores, libraries or museums may not exceed 50% of total occupancy limit established by state or local fire marshal. Gatherings at recreational sports and exercise facilities are prohibited if they exceed 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the by state or local fire marshal, or if there is less than six feet of distance between each workout station. Gatherings at non-tribal casinos may not exceed 15% of total occupancy limits established by state or local fire marshal. Food service establishments may not exceed 50% of normal seating capacity.
- Capacity limits also apply to outdoor gatherings.
- Restaurants and bars have capacity limits for gatherings and may only serve alcohol to parties who are seated, six feet apart, and remain separate.
- Organized sports require face coverings and have gathering limits.
- Employers must protect workers through social distancing, wearing of face coverings, daily entry self-screening, and following CDC guidelines on isolation and quarantine protocols and individuals who are in isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure, symptoms, or test results cannot go to work with others, and employers cannot require them to come to work in person with anyone else present.
- Mask requirements for businesses and individuals remain in place but do not apply to individuals at outdoor gatherings except when unable to maintain six feet of distance.
- Bars may only serve alcohol to gatherings seated at tables.
To aid in 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 facilities, 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 any visitor who does not provide their name and phone number.
Under MCL 333.2253, if the MDHHS director determines that control of an epidemic is necessary to protect the public health, the director by emergency order may prohibit the gathering of people for any purpose and may establish procedures to be followed during the epidemic to insure continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws.
Pursuant to MCL 333.2235(1), local health departments are authorized to carry out and enforce the terms of this order. Law enforcement officers may also enforce the order and are specifically authorized to investigate potential violations of this order. They may coordinate as necessary with the appropriate regulatory entity and enforce this order within their jurisdiction.
Violations of this order are a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $200, or both. Violations of this order are also punishable by a civil fine of up to $1,000.
This order is effective immediately and remains in effect through Friday, Oct. 30. A copy of the order in its entirety can be viewed here. October 9, 2020 Public Health Emergency Order. Individuals with suggestions and concerns are invited to submit comments via email to COVID19@michigan.gov.