As the third COVID-19 vaccine begins its rollout to selected populations in Michigan, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued an updated Gatherings and Face Mask Order that will loosen some of the restrictions that were previously put in place by the Department.
Capacity Limits on Gatherings.
Effective March 5, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the updated Gatherings and Face Mask Order will generally increase the size of both indoor and outdoor gatherings that are permitted to take place within the State of Michigan.
Indoor Gatherings: Under the prior Order, indoor residential gatherings were limited to 10 persons, from not more than 2 households. Under the updated Order, that limit is increased to 15 persons, from not more than 3 households. In non-residential venues, indoor gatherings were previously limited to 10 persons, from not more than 2 households. Under the updated Order, that limit is increased to 25 persons per gathering, irrespective of the number of households involved. Accordingly, the permissible size of indoor gatherings has increased significantly under the new Order.
Outdoor Gatherings: Under the prior Order, outdoor residential gatherings were limited to 25 persons, from not more than 3 households. The updated Order expands that limit to 50 persons, without regard to the number of households involved. For non-residential outdoor venues that were previously limited to 25 persons (fixed seating) and 20% of the total seating capacity, the limit has been increased 300 persons, clearing the way for large outdoor events such as summer weddings.
The updated Order also increases bar and restaurant dining capacity, as well as capacity for retail shops and businesses. Of particular importance to community associations, exercise facilities will also see an increases in their capacity, from 25% to 30%, with the existing restrictions requiring 6 feet of distance between each occupied workout station, and the physical layout of exercise space altered to permit 6 feet of distance between persons at all times remaining in place. This modest capacity increase is likely resulting from recent CDC case studies that have shown indoor exercise to be linked to various COVID-19 outbreaks across the country.
Face mask requirement at gatherings.
The new Gatherings and Face Mask Order does not change any of the existing face mask requirements to which we have become accustomed. Specifically:
- All persons participating in gatherings are required to wear a face mask.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 section 8 of this 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.
- A person responsible for a child care organization or camp, or an agent of such person, must not allow gatherings unless face masks are worn by all staff. Children must wear face masks as indicated below:
- All children 2 years and older when on a school bus or other transportation provided by the child care organization or camp;
- All children 4 years and older when in indoor hallways and indoor common areas;
- All children 5 years and older when in classrooms, homes, cabins, or similar indoor settings.
- 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 February 7, 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 Order. By its express terms, the Emergency Order under MCL 333.2253 – Gatherings and Face Mask Order takes effect on March 5, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and will remain in full force and effect through May 24, 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 or upcoming emergency order under MCL 333.2253 or would like assistance with drafting appropriate rules and regulations for your Community Association, please contact one of the experienced attorneys at our firm.