The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Thursday revised and extended its epidemic order to contain the spread of COVID-19, as Michigan continues to see a surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Although most of the order is unchanged, new provisions target indoor gatherings where COVID has spread most rapidly.
As part of the newly extended orders, MDHHS today reduces from 500 persons to 50 persons the maximum gathering size for indoor gatherings such as weddings, parties, and banquets which occur in nonresidential settings without fixed seating.
For bars, restaurants, and social events outside private homes, indoor party sizes at a single table are now restricted to six people. Because individuals remove their masks while eating and drinking in indoor settings, seated tables with people from different households create high risks of spread. Like many other businesses in Michigan, bars and restaurants will also be required to take names and contact information to support effective contact tracing if necessary.
“The orders that MDHHS has issued are centered on keeping the public safe and following best practices to reduce the spread of this deadly virus,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “The alarming surge we are now seeing is exactly why we were so worried about the fall season. We must remain vigilant, so we prevent long-term health consequences and unnecessary deaths, and protect our hospital capacity and the health of our frontline health workers.”
Stronger Recommendations for Indoor Social Gatherings Permitted Under the Epidemic Order
Alongside the re-release of Thursday's order, MDHHS today published strong recommendations for indoor social gatherings, including at Thanksgiving. Because no one measure confers complete protection in a gathering, the guidance recommends that individuals take multiple steps together:
-Get together outside whenever possible. You have up to 20 times higher risk of getting sick inside.
-If you do get together inside, include no more than two households and 10 people.
-Limit time inside together—greater duration is greater risk.
-Wear a mask – take it off when you eat or drink, then put it back on.
-Keep six feet apart as much as you can.
-When possible, keep voices down; high volume can increase COVID transmission by 30 times
-Wash hands regularly and try to not to share utensils.