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Minor Changes Afoot as Michigan Updates its  Gatherings and Face Mask Order

Minor Changes Afoot as Michigan Updates its Gatherings and Face Mask Order

May 9th, 2021

    Gatherings and Face Mask Order

    Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services has issued an updated Gatherings and Face Mask Order that will loosen some of the COVID-19 restrictions previously put in place by the Department.

    Capacity limits on gatherings.

    Effective May 6, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the updated Gatherings and Face Mask Order will generally increase the size of outdoor gatherings that are permitted to take place within the State of Michigan. The updated order does not impact permitted indoor gathering size which remains unchanged from the prior orders. Current capacity limits are set forth below.

    Indoor Gatherings: For residential venues, the limit for indoor gatherings remains 15 persons, from not more than 3 households. For non-residential venues, the limit remains 25 persons per gathering, irrespective of the number of households involved.

    Outdoor Gatherings: For residential venues, outdoor gatherings are generally limited to 50 persons, without regard to the number of households involved. However, a larger outdoor residential gathering is permitted, up to a total of 300 persons, provided that the overall density does not exceed 20 persons per 1,000 square feet of outdoor space. Accordingly, Michigan residents with larger properties will be permitted to hold larger gatherings under the new order. For non-residential outdoor venues, the limit remains 300 persons, unchanged from the prior orders.

    The updated order also changes the definition of entertainment and recreational facilities to specifically exclude stadiums and arenas. This will allow outdoor stadiums and arenas to establish an infection control plan under the Large Outdoor Events Guidance that was issued May 4, 2021 by the Department. Currently, capacity may not exceed 20% of the venue's fixed seating capacity or 20 persons per 1,000 square feet, whichever is greater. These venues must post plans online and implement infection controls plans prior to scheduled events.

    Face mask requirement at gatherings.

    The new Gatherings and Face Mask Order contains one significant change to the existing face mask requirements. Fully vaccinated persons, in a residential gathering that are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, will no longer be required to wear a mask. A "fully vaccinated person" issomeone for whom at least two weeks has passed after receiving the final dose of an FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

    Aside from this new exception, which only applies in residential gatherings to fully vaccinated persons, the new order does not otherwise change the existing face mask requirements to which we have all become accustomed. Specifically:

    1. All persons participating in gatherings are required to wear a face mask.

    2. As a condition of gathering for the purpose of transportation, transportation providers must require all staff and patrons to use face masks, and must enforce physical distancing among all patrons to the extent feasible.

    3. Except as provided elsewhere in the order, a person responsible for a business, store, office, government office, school, organized event, or other operation, or an agent of such person, must prohibit gatherings of any kind unless the person requires individuals in such gatherings (including employees) to wear a face mask, and denies entry or service to all persons refusing to wear face masks while gathered.

    4. A person responsible for a business, store, office, government office, school, organized event, or other operation, or an agent of such person, may not assume that someone who enters the facility without a face mask falls within one of the exceptions specified in the order, including the exception for individuals who cannot medically tolerate a face mask. An individual's verbal representation that they are not wearing a face mask because they fall within a specified exception, however, may be accepted.

    5. A person responsible for a child care organization or camp, or an agent of such person, must not allow gatherings unless:

    6. Face masks are worn by all staff;

    7. A good faith effort is made to ensure that children aged 2 to 4 years wear a mask when participating in gatherings;

    8. All children 5 years and older wear a mask when participating in gatherings.

    9. Participants in gatherings for any exercise activities, group fitness, or organized sports must comply with face mask requirements listed in MDHHS's document entitled Guidance for Athletics issued May 4, 2021.

    The existing exceptions to the face mask requirements (e.g. people eating in a restaurant, swimming, engaged in religious services, etc.) remain unchanged from the previous orders. By its express terms, the updated Emergency Order under MCL 333.2253 – Gatherings and Face Mask Order took effect on May 6, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and will remain in full force and effect through May 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

    As with the prior coronavirus orders, Community Associations must comply with all restrictions and requirements that govern the operation of commonly-used amenities. If you have any questions regarding the current order or would like assistance with drafting appropriate rules and regulations for your Community Association, please contact one of the experienced attorneys at our firm.

    Author

    James J. Tocco
    James J. Tocco

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