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MDHHS Director Updates and Expands Emergency Order

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Laura J. Genovich and Cody A. Mott
Foster Swift Legal Update E-blast
October 9, 2020

Michigan Coronavirus Executive OrdersFor the second time this week, the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Robert Gordon, issued an Emergency Order (“EO”) addressing COVID-19. The Michigan Public Health Code, MCL 333.1101 et al, gives the public health director the ability to restrict the size of gatherings and issue other procedures necessary to protect the public health. This new order imposes new capacity restrictions for certain businesses, worker safeguards, and contract tracing. Face coverings remain required for any gathering of two or more people not of the same household. Businesses cannot admit people without masks unless they verbally represent they have an exception under the EO.

Limits on Gatherings

This EO, issued October 9, does not change the limits for gatherings of persons not from the same household. Pursuant to the order, indoor gatherings of more than 10 persons are still limited to (i) 20% of fixed seating (25% for Region 6); (ii) 20 persons per 1,000 square feet (25 persons for Region 6); and (iii) a maximum capacity of 500. For outdoor gatherings of more than 100 persons, the capacity limits are restricted to (i) 30% of fixed seating; (ii) 30 persons per 1,000 square feet; and (iii) a maximum capacity of 1,000. Face coverings are required for all non-residential gatherings and are strongly recommended for all residential gatherings.

New in this order are the following attendance limitations and capacity restrictions for:

  • Retail Stores, Libraries, and Museums: 50% total occupancy as established by the fire marshal.
  • Recreational Sports and Exercise Facilities such as gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, exercise studios, bowling centers, roller or ice rinks, and trampoline parks: 25% total occupancy as established by the fire marshal; provided that, there is at least six feet of distance between each workout station.
  • Outpatient Waiting Rooms, Veterinary Clinics, Personal Care Services, and similar businesses: all gatherings prohibited unless the facility implements a system which ensures all persons not of the same household are consistently six feet apart, such as having patients wait in their cars for their appointments to be called.
  • Professional Sports and Entertainment Facilities such as arenas, cinemas, concert halls, performance venues, sporting venues, and stadiums: all gatherings prohibited unless all patrons can remain six feet apart at all times. This may include staggering group seating upon reservation and closing off every other row.
  • Pools: indoor pools are restricted to 25% capacity and outdoor pools to 50% capacity.
  • Non-Tribal Casinos: 15% total occupancy as established by the fire marshal.
  • Bars and Restaurants: food service establishments are limited to 50% normal seating capacity and each party must be seated at least six feet apart. They must also close indoor common areas where people can congregate and only serve alcoholic beverages onsite when parties are seated and separated by at least six feet.

Worker Safeguards

The MDHHS EO revives some of the worker safeguards previously found in Governor Whitmer’s executive orders. This includes requiring daily screenings with questionnaires asking workers if they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been or are suspected of being exposed to people possibly infected with COVID-19. Additionally, employers cannot require workers to gather in a manner that would violate this order. A gathering of two or more employees in a common space is prohibited if:

  • it is not strictly necessary to perform the job (provided however that, where gatherings are necessary, employees must still maintain six feet of distance from one another where practicable);
  • employees not otherwise required to wear facemasks cannot maintain six feet of distance; and
  • employees not otherwise required to wear facemasks occupy the same indoor shared spaces like conference rooms, restrooms and hallways.

Employees are also barred from any gathering at work if they: (i) are subject to an isolation or quarantine recommendation under CDC guidance; (ii) have been instructed by a health care professional to remain home; or (iii) are awaiting a COVID-19 test or the results of a COVID-19 test after having symptoms.

Contact Tracing

Certain facilities that permit a gathering must collect information to aid in contact tracing. This includes recording the date and time of entry for each person, their name and contact information. Contact information includes a person’s name and phone number, at minimum. Certain facilities include:

  • Barber shops, cosmetology services, tattooing and body piercing stores, tanning places, massage services, and other personal care services.
  • Sports and entertainment facilities such as arenas, cinemas, concert halls, performance venues, sports venues, stadiums, and theaters.
  • Public amusement places like amusements parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, skating rinks, and trampoline parks.
  • All in-home businesses such as cleaners, repair persons, painters and similar services. Here, employees that visit clients in-home must accurately record the date and time of service, as well as the name of the client and his or her contact information.

For questions concerning this communication, please contact:

For questions or assistance related to COVID-19, contact your Foster Swift attorney or a member of Foster Swift’s Coronavirus Task Force: