Michigan is experiencing "an exponential growth" in COVID-19 cases, with daily new cases reaching over 6,000 (three times more than last spring) and more than 3,000 Michiganders currently hospitalized. To combat the rise in cases, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on November 15, 2020, issued a three-week Epidemic Order under the Public Health Code enhancing social distancing restrictions statewide.
The Order reinstitutes prior required closures of specific businesses for a three-week period, including:
- Offices that can conduct business remotely.
- Entertainment venues (banquet halls, cinemas/movie theaters, casinos).
- Recreational facilities (group fitness activities or classes are prohibited).
- Places of public amusement (bowling alleys, ice-skating rinks, indoor water parks, arcades, bingo halls).
- In-person dining at restaurants or bars.
- In-person instruction, sports and extracurricular activities for grades 9 through 12.
- In-person instruction and extracurricular events for colleges and universities, with some exceptions.
With regard to office settings, the order allows limited workplace gatherings to occur as long as those gatherings are consistent with the Emergency Rules issued by MIOSHA on October 14, 2020.
The Order also institutes and reinforces the following requirements:
Face Mask Requirements
- Face masks continue to be required for gatherings of any kind. This includes requiring businesses, organizations, offices, and transportation providers to deny entry or service to those who refuse to wear a face mask. Those responsible for ensuring face masks are worn at entry should not assume those who are not wearing a facemask cannot medically tolerate it and seek, at a minimum, verbal confirmation.
- Children in child care organizations or camps must wear a face mask if: 2 years or older on provided transportation; 4 years or older in indoor hallways and common areas; and 5 years and older in classrooms or other indoor settings.
- Exceptions to the face mask requirement include: those who verbally affirm they cannot medically tolerate one; those younger than 5 years old outside of a childcare organization; socially distanced outdoor activities; medical services that require removal; for identification purposes, communicating with the deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing; when necessary when engaging in a public safety role; voting in an election; engaging in religious service; or giving a socially distanced speech for broadcast or to an audience.
General Gathering Requirements
- Indoor gatherings are prohibited at non-residential venues.
- For outdoor gatherings, no more than 25 people from no more than three households may gather.
- The limitations do not apply to certain temporary gatherings in a shared space such as at airports, food establishments, malls, or on public transportation; workplace gatherings consistent with the MIOSHA Emergency Rules; voting activities; education and child care facilities; obtaining medical treatment; funerals (but no more than 25 people), and residential care facilities.
Gatherings at Certain Facilities
- Food establishments are restricted to outdoor dining with no more than six to a table spaced six feet apart and to custodial settings, medical facilities, school and university cafeterias, shelters, and soup kitchens with attendees seated six feet apart unless members of the same household.
- Retail stores, library, or museums may not exceed 30% occupancy or one customer at a time, including regulating entry and checkout with markers for patrons to stand six feet apart.
- Exercise facilities must not exceed 25% occupancy, with 12 feet of distance between workout stations.
- Businesses should require patients to wait in their cars for their appointments, unless the facility can ensure six feet of distance in the waiting room.
- Non-essential personal care services (hair, nail, massage, etc.) may remain open and must limit services to those who do not require face mask removal. Services must be by appointment only and gatherings in waiting areas are prohibited.
Schools, Colleges and Universities
- In-person instruction, but not extracurricular activities, for pre-kindergarten through grade eight is permitted subject to local health department and school district decisions on remote learning.
- Gathering restrictions do not restrict schools from providing services to students in need, such as food distribution, access to internet, physical and mental health care services, and childcare.
- Gatherings for organized sports are limited to participants, teams and venues that comply with enhanced testing and measures outlined in the MDHHS guidance on Additional Measures for Safer Athletic Practice and Play.
Contact Tracing Requirements
- Contact tracing is required for all exercise facilities, in-home services, and businesses providing barbering, cosmetology services, body art services, tanning services, massage services, or similar personal care services.
- Information gathered must include, at a minimum, the patron's name and phone number. In-home facilities must maintain business records that include date and time of service, name of client, and contact information.
- Upon request, such data must be provided to MDHHS and local health departments to aid with contact tracing and investigation efforts.
- The data must be retained for 28 days and destroyed thereafter. The data cannot be sold or used for sales or marketing purposes without patron consent and is protected as confidential to the fullest extent of the law.
This Order takes effect on November 18, 2020 and continues through December 8, 2020. Upon effect, this Order rescinds the October 29, 2020 order. A violation of the order is punishable by monetary civil penalties under MCL 333.2262(a) and civil fines up to $1,000 for each violation or day that the violation continues.
If COVID cases continue to rise in Michigan, we anticipate the MDHHS to continue to issue additional, and potentially stricter, restrictions as we head into the holiday season and through the remainder of 2020.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.