MICHIGAN — Restaurants in Michigan are now allowed to be at 50 percent capacity, with up to 100 people, thanks to changes to the state’s COVID-19 orders, which also effect other indoor activities.
On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced updates to two of its epidemic orders, allowing for increased capacity limits at various venues, larger residential and nonresidential gatherings and expanded visitation opportunities at residential care facilities.
Changes to the “Gatherings and Mask Order” go into effect Friday, March 5, and remain in effect through Monday, April 19. The capacity changes include:
- Restaurants and bars are allowed to be at 50 percent capacity, up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart, with no more than six people per table. There is now an 11 p.m. curfew.
- Indoor non-residential gatherings where people interact across households are permitted up to 25 people, allowing public meetings and other small indoor gatherings to resume.
- Outdoor non-residential gatherings where people interact across households are permitted up to 300, allowing larger outdoor events to resume.
- Indoor entertainment venues are allowed to be at 50 percent capacity, up to 300 people.
- Exercise facilities are allowed to be at 30 percent capacity with restrictions on distancing and mask requirements.
- Retail is allowed to be at 50 percent capacity.
- Casinos are allowed to be at 30 percent capacity.
- Indoor stadiums and arenas are allowed have 375 if seating capacity is under 10,000, 750 if seating capacity is over 10,000.
- Outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities may host up to 1,000 patrons.
- Indoor residential gatherings are now limited to 15 people from three households, while outdoor residential gatherings can include up to 50 people.
The state will continue to pause other venues and activities where participants have close physical contacts and are not consistently masked, like water parks. As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so.
Anyone participating in gatherings is required to wear a face mask, unless consuming food and drink and are seated or separated in a socially distant manner. Groups of people participating in activities together (such as those seated together at a concert or movie, or bowling in the same lane or group of lanes) must not exceed 25 persons indoors, or 300 persons outdoors.
“As we continue our vaccine rollout and make steady progress against the virus, we are taking additional incremental steps to re-engage to ensure we are protecting our families and frontline workers and saving lives,” Gov. Whitmer said.
Residential care facilities and nursing homes
With all residents at skilled nursing homes having been offered their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and a vast majority having had their second dose, the state’s “Residential Care Facilities Order” goes into effect immediately. The order encourages communal dining and group activities for residents and allows indoor and outdoor visitation in all counties regardless of county risk level.
Visitation is allowed as long as the facility has not had a new COVID-19 case in the last 14 days and all indoor visitors ages 13 and older are subject to rapid antigen testing. Testing will help keep residents, staff and families safe while allowing for visitation and an increased quality of life for residents. Adult foster care homes licensed for 12 or fewer residents, hospice facilities, substance use disorder residential facilities and assisted-living facilities are encouraged to implement visitor and staff testing protocols.
Visitors will be required to wear face masks or other personal protective equipment when required by the facility at all times. In general, visitors will need to maintain six feet of distance from residents.
Some encouraging numbers
The new capacity limits come as the COVID-19 situation in the state slowly improves. The MDHHS had been closely monitoring three categories for stabilization or declines over the past several weeks. The presence of more infectious variants, such as the B 1.1.7 variant, threatens the state’s progress in control of the epidemic and the MDHHS will be monitoring data closely.
In recent days, hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 is now at 3.9 percent. That number peaked at 19. percent on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Overall case rates, after declining for six weeks, have plateaued at 91.2 cases per million. The rate is similar to what they were at the beginning of October. Positivity rate is now at 3.7 percent, having increased slightly from last week’s 3.5 percent.
“More than 2 million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and a third vaccine will soon be arriving here in Michigan to help us end the pandemic in our state,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “We continue to monitor the data closely, and based on current trends we are taking another step toward normalcy. We urge Michiganders to continue doing what works and wearing a mask, washing their hands and avoiding crowds.”