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Publications | November 16, 2020
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DHHS Order Further Limits Indoor and Outdoor Gatherings and Restricts Higher Education In-Person Learning

In response to the continued rise of COVID-19 cases in Michigan, on November 15, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued its updated Gatherings and Face Mask Order (DHHS Order), further restricting the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings, prohibiting in-person education in high schools, colleges and universities, and requiring continued use of face masks. The DHHS Order takes effect on November 18, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., and will remain in effect through December 8, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Thus, for the next three weeks, the following limitations will be in place.

Indoor Gatherings

Indoor gatherings are significantly restricted.

Gatherings are prohibited in entertainment venues, including cinemas, conference centers, conference halls, sporting venues, theaters, casinos, night clubs, water parks and others.

Residential gatherings may take place so long as no more than 10 persons and no more than two households are gathered. This will apply during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Indoor gatherings at food service establishments are prohibited, with the exception of custodial settings, medical facilities, school and university cafeterias, shelters and soup kitchens. In these limited situations, if attendees are seated at tables, persons must be six feet apart, or members of a household may share a table and tables must be spaced a minimum of six feet apart.

Indoor gatherings at pools are only permitted so long as the gathering does not exceed 25% of bather capacity.

Outdoor Gatherings

Outdoor gatherings at food establishments are permitted if participants are seated no more than six to a table and tables are spaced a minimum of six feet apart.

Outdoor gatherings at residences are limited to 25 or fewer people, comprised of no more than three households. Non-residential outdoor gatherings are limited to:

  • 25 or fewer persons 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; and
  • 25 or fewer persons gathered at a venue with fixed seating, and attendance is limited to 20% of seating capacity of the venue.

A gathering at an outdoor pool must not exceed 25% of bather capacity limits.

The limitations to both indoor and outdoor gatherings do not apply to incidental, temporary gatherings of persons in a shared space, as they frequently occur: in an airport; bus station; exercise facility; food service establishment; shopping mall; public pool except as specifically prohibited in Section 3 of the DHHS Order; training of law enforcement; correctional, medical or first responder personnel; children in a child care organization or camp setting; persons traveling on a school bus or other public transit; gatherings for the purpose of medical treatment, including mental health and substance use disorder support services; gatherings of up to 25 persons for the purpose of a funeral; and others. Importantly, the gathering restrictions in Section 2(a) and 2(b) of the DHHS Order do not apply to “Workplace gatherings that occur consistent with the Emergency Rules issued by MIOSHA on October 14, 2020.”


In-person gatherings at public and nonpublic schools, including teaching, sports and extracurricular activities, are prohibited in high schools, colleges and universities, with limited exceptions. Although K-8 may continue with in-person education, gatherings for the purpose of sports and extracurricular activities are also prohibited.

Retail Stores

A gathering at a retail store must not exceed 30% of total occupancy limits established by the state fire marshal or a local fire marshal. A retail store may permit one customer at a time to enter if strict adherence to the 30% total occupancy limit would otherwise result in closure. Retail stores must establish lines to regulate entry and checkout, with markings for patrons to enable them to stand at least six feet apart from one another while waiting.

Exercise Facilities

Gatherings at exercise facilities must not exceed 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the state fire marshal or a local fire marshal, and there must be at least 12 feet of distance between each occupied workout station. Gatherings for group fitness activities or classes are prohibited. Exercise facilities are required to conduct contact tracing.

Waiting Rooms

Gatherings in waiting rooms at outpatient health care facilities, veterinary clinics and other businesses are prohibited unless the facility implements a system to ensure that persons not of the same household maintain six feet of distance. To the extent possible, this system must include a policy that requires patients to wait in their cars for their appointments to be called.

Personal Care

In facilities offering non-essential personal care services, including hair, nail, tanning, massage, traditional spa, tattoo, body art and piercing services, and similar personal care services, gatherings are only permitted to the extent that services do not involve the removal of face masks. All services must be provided by appointment, and gatherings in waiting areas are prohibited. These facilities are required to conduct contact tracing.

Professional Sports

Gatherings for the purpose of organized sports are prohibited, except for professional and college sports, provided that all participants, teams and venues comply with the enhanced testing regimen specified in the Additional Mitigation Measures for Safer Athletic Practice and Play. Attendance is not allowed at any organized sporting activities.

Face Masks

All persons participating in gatherings are required to wear a face mask, subject to minimal exceptions. Thus, 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, 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 may be accepted.

Like many other state orders, the implications of this DHHS Order impact all businesses and employers differently. Warner continues to follow COVID-19 updates. For additional information or questions about the DHHS 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.