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Publications | September 25, 2020
3 minute read

Back to the Movies: State of Michigan Moves to Permit Gatherings and Events

On September 25, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-183 (Amended Safe Start Order) amending Michigan’s Safe Start Plan to permit larger indoor gatherings and open certain places of public accommodation as of 12:01 a.m. on October 9, 2020. Governor Whitmer also issued Executive Order 2020-184 (Amended Safeguards Order) updating the safeguards to protect Michigan workers. Finally, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-185 to amend Executive Order 2020-142 to require all students in grades kindergarten and up to wear masks in classrooms and require school districts and nonpublic schools to publish information about any cases of a probable or confirmed COVID-19 positive individual present on school property or at a school function during the period of infection. These executive orders are the latest in a series of executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer responding to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Summary of the Revised Permitted Social Gatherings
Consistent with the prior Safe Start Order, the Amended Safe Start Order expressly permits indoor social gatherings or indoor organized events of 10 or fewer people and outdoor social gatherings or outdoor organized events of 100 or fewer people. In addition, in all Regions, the following are now permitted:

  • Non-residential indoor social gatherings and organized events with attendance of up to 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20% of the fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people.  
  • Non-residential outdoor social gatherings and organized events are permitted to have up to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 % of the fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people.

In Regions 6 and 8 non-residential indoor venues may allow up to 25 people per 1,000 square feet or 25% of the fixed seating capacity.

All organizers and venues must ensure that the gathering or event complies with the above restrictions and that persons not part of the same household maintain six feet of distance from one another. The organizers and venues must design the gathering or event to encourage and maintain social distancing.

Masks are still required under Executive Order 2020-153 (Revised Mask Order).

These limitations do not apply to an incidental gathering of persons in a shared space, including an airport, bus station, factory floor, restaurant, shopping mall, public pool or workplace (although it does apply to social gatherings and organized events held in such places).

Opening Places of Public Accommodation: Requirement to Maintain Records of Patrons

As of 12:01 a.m. on October 9, 2020, places of public accommodation may open subject to the provisions of the Amended Safeguards Order. Places of public accommodations include indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues, amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, indoor dance areas, roller rinks, ice rinks, trampoline parks, carnival or amusement rides, waterparks and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities.

Substantively, the Amended Safeguards Order is very similar to the prior Safeguards Order. The Amended Safeguards Order does include a requirement that a place of public accommodation must maintain accurate records, including date and time of entry, names of patrons and contact information, to aid with contact tracing. A place of public accommodation must: (i) deny entry to any visitor who does not provide at a minimum their name and phone number; and (ii) mandate the wearing of a facial covering at all times when patrons are in the facility.

Bars, Restaurants and Nightclubs

The Amended Safe Start Order expressly requires that food service establishments must close common areas in which people can congregate, dance or otherwise mingle.

You can find the executive orders that are currently in effect here. If you have any questions about how the Amended Safeguards Order impacts your business, please contact your Warner Labor and Employment attorney or any member of the Warner Labor and Employment Practice Group. Warner has organized a cross-disciplinary legal team to help you navigate through the Amended Safe Start Order. If you have any questions or concerns related to the Amended Safe Start Order or any previously issued stay-at-home order, please reach out to your Warner client manager or Michael BradyTroy CumingsAmanda FielderMatthew Johnson or Linda Paullin-Hebden.