By Ronald S. Nixon

Last Friday, September 24, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued three executive orders that will reopen more of Michigan’s economy and impose additional restrictions on resumption of public and private education.

Effective October 9, 2020, Executive Order 2020-183 reopens certain amusement, entertainment, and recreational public accommodation venues, including cinemas, theaters, arenas, amusement parks, bingo halls, and bowling allies. These venues have been closed since the first stay at home order was issued in March 2020, except for limited use in organized and professional sports activities.

At the same time, that order relaxes restrictions on both indoor and outdoor social gatherings and events. Currently, indoor public social gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor ones are limited to 100. Under the revised order, gatherings of more than 10 but less than 500 people will also be permitted at indoor non-residential venues. Attendance at such indoor venues is limited to 20% of seating capacity (25% in zones 6 and 8, which includes the upper peninsula and the northern lower peninsula) in venues with fixed seating and otherwise limited to 20 people per 1,000 square feet (25 people per 1,000 square feet in zones 6 and 8) in other venues. Gatherings of more than 100 but less than 1,000 people will be permitted at outdoor non-residential venues. Attendance at such outdoor gatherings is limited to 30% capacity for venues with fixed seating and is limited to 30 people per 1,000 square feet for other venues. The capacity restrictions for both indoor and outdoor venues apply both to the entire venue and each room or distinct area at the venue. For example, if the floor space of an entire indoor venue is 1000 square feet and it has two rooms, all 20 people may not congregate in one of the rooms.

Organizers of such events are charged with enforcing the restrictions, including the general restrictions that each attendee maintain six feet of social distance and wear a mask indoors consistent with the existing executive order regarding masks (currently EO 2020-153). The indoor restrictions do not apply to election polling places or certain training of law enforcement, correctional, medical, or first responder personnel that cannot be performed remotely.

Under Executive Order 2020-184, all public accommodation venues that are now open and that will open on October 9 must have measures in place to protect workers and patrons at the venue. Two new requirements added by this order is that each venue must keep accurate records to aid with contact tracing, including patron names, telephone numbers, and the date and time of entry. Such venues must deny entry to any patron who does not provide at least a name and telephone number.

Executive Order 2020-185, effective October 5, 2020, modifies the Governor’s prior order regarding reopening schools for pre-K-12 education (EO 2020-142). The new order requires that all students wear masks when in classrooms. The prior order only required elementary students (K-5 grades) to wear masks outside of classrooms. Additionally, public school districts and private schools must publish information about any cases of probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any school function during the period of infection in a manner prescribed by the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services.


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