Skip to main content
A Better Partnership


Jan 2021
January 22, 2021

New Gathering Rules Provide for a Return to Indoor Dining

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued a new Gatherings and Face Mask Order (New Order). The January 13, 2021, Gatherings and Face Mask Order (Prior Order) will remain in effect until January 31, 2021. The New Order is effective on Monday, February 1, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. except for expanded limits on capacity in certain stadiums and arenas hosting sporting events where such expanded limits are effective immediately.
The New Order permits certain additional indoor gatherings in non-residential settings including restaurants and entertainment facilities. Indoor residential gatherings remain limited to 10 people and two households. Face covering requirements and the requirements for organized sports were not revised from the Prior Order.
General Capacity Limits for Indoor and Outdoor Venues
Indoor gatherings are generally permitted so long as there are no more than 10 persons from no more than two households gathered.
Outdoor gatherings remain permitted as follows:

  • At residential venues: 25 or fewer persons are gathered, comprised of no more than 3 households.

  • At non-residential venues if: (a) 25 or fewer persons are gathered at a venue without fixed seating and attendance is limited to 20 persons per 1,000 square feet, including within any distinct area within the event space; or (b) 25 or fewer persons are gathered at a venue with fixed seating and attendance is limited to 20% of seating capacity of the venue.  

“Indoors” means a location that is fully or partially enclosed on the top and:

  • Fully or partially enclosed on two or more contiguous sides; or

  • If fully or partially enclosed on two non-contiguous sides, any part of that space that is more than eight feet from an open side.  

Indoor spaces therefore include most buildings (such as barns and garages), vehicles (such as buses and trains) and temporary structures (including tents or canopies with side walls or coverings).

Tents with one side are not indoors. Tents with two opposite sides are indoors, except for the spaces within them that are within eight feet of an open side. Tents with two adjacent sides, three sides or four sides, are all indoors. Placement of a tent next to a wall, building or other structure is equivalent to a side. Opening a doorway in the middle of a side does not make that side open.
Gatherings at Food Service Establishments
Gatherings are permitted at “food service establishments” if:

  • Consumption of food or beverages is only permitted in a designated dining area where:

    • Patrons are seated;

    • Groups of patrons are separated by at least six feet;

    • No more than six patrons are seated together (at a table, booth, or group of fixed seats); and

    • Groups of patrons do not intermingle.

  • Patrons are not permitted to gather in common areas in which people can congregate, dance, or otherwise mingle.

  • If dining occurs indoors:

    • The number of patrons indoors (or a designated dining area of a multi-purpose venue) cannot exceed 25% of normal seating capacity, or 100 persons, whichever is less;

    • Dining must close between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.; and

    • The venue displays, in a prominent location, the MDHHS “Dining During COVID-19 brochure.  

If an employee of a food service establishment has been confirmed positive for COVID-19 or shows symptoms of COVID-19 while at work, a gathering at that food service establishment is prohibited until the food service establishment has been deep cleaned consistent with the Food and Drug Administration’s and CDC’s guidance.
In addition to other businesses previously required to do contract tracing, all dine-in food service establishments must maintain accurate records of the patron names and phone numbers who purchase food for consumption on the premises, and the date and time of entry.
A “food service establishment” means a fixed or mobile restaurant, coffee shop, cafeteria, short-order cafe, luncheonette, grill, tearoom, sandwich shop, soda fountain, tavern, bar, cocktail lounge, nightclub, drive-in, industrial feeding establishment, private organization serving the public, rental hall, catering kitchen, delicatessen, theater, commissary, food concession or similar place in which food or drink is prepared for direct consumption through service on the premises or elsewhere, and any other eating or drinking establishment or operation where food is served or provided for the public. Food service establishment does not include any of the following:

  • A motel that serves continental breakfasts only.

  • A bed and breakfast that has 10 or fewer sleeping rooms for rent.

  • A bed and breakfast that has more than 10 sleeping rooms for rent, if the bed and breakfast serves continental breakfasts only.

  • A regulated child care organization, unless the establishment is carrying out an operation considered by the director to be a food service establishment.

  • A vending machine location.  

Gatherings at Entertainment Facilities and Recreational Facilities
Gatherings at entertainment facilities and recreational facilities are permitted if:

  • Venues and activities held at those venues comply with the following masking and distancing requirements. Venues that cannot consistently adhere to these requirements (e.g., water parks, dance floors at a nightclub or children’s indoor playgrounds in-as-much as staff are not present to prevent physical contact) may not be open.

    • Patrons remain masked at all times, except when eating or drinking in designated areas;

    • Groups of patrons participating in activities together (such as those seated together at a concert or movie, or bowling in the same lane) do not exceed 10 persons from up to two households; and

    • Patrons are prevented from mingling with or engaging in physical contact with persons outside their group.

  • Groups are spaced or seated at least six feet apart if participating in stationary activities or they maintain a consistent six feet of distance from other groups at all times if participating in non-stationary activities.

  • Consumption of food or beverages is permitted only where patrons are seated, groups of patrons are separated by at least six feet, no more than six patrons are seated at a table, and groups of patrons do not intermingle.

  • Venues comply with the following density limitations:

    • For venues with fixed seating, occupancy must not exceed 20% of the limits established by the state fire marshal or a local fire marshal; or

    • For venues with non-fixed seating, occupancy is limited to 20 persons per 1,000 square feet, including within any distinct space within the venue.

  • Venues abide by the following maximum capacity limitations:

    • At stadiums and arenas hosting sporting events, up to 250 patrons may be gathered at venues with a seating capacity under 10,000, and up to 500 patrons may be gathered at venues with a seating capacity of over 10,000. This provision is effective immediately, replacing the Prior Order; and

    • For all other entertainment and recreation facilities, no more than 100 patrons may be gathered within any distinct space within the venue.  

Gatherings for Non-Essential Personal Care Services
Previously, gatherings for non-essential personal care services were only permitted if the services did not involve the removal of a mask. Under the New Order, all services must be provided by appointment and gatherings in waiting areas are prohibited. However, the limitation that a service cannot be provided if the patron has to remove their mask is not included in the New Order. Non-essential personal care services include hair, nail, tanning, massage, traditional spa, tattoo, body art, piercing services and similar personal care services.
Helpful Links
In addition, below are links to various summaries issued by the MDHHS:

You can also find information at and
The state’s approach to the COVID-19 vaccine is available here:
Warner continues to follow COVID-19 updates. For additional information or questions about the New Order or any COVID-19-related issues, please contact a member of our COVID-19 service team: Michael Azzi, Amanda Fielder, Monique Field-Foster, Matthew Johnson or Ford Turrell.

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

By clicking the ‘ACCEPT’ button, you agree that we may review any information you transmit to us. You recognize that our review of your information, even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us, and even if you consider it confidential, does not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you.

Please click the ‘ACCEPT’ button if you understand and accept the foregoing statement and wish to proceed.



+ -