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MDHHS lifting mask requirements for outdoor gatherings of under 100 people

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has updated its COVID-19 Gatherings and Face Mask epidemic order, which will not require masks outdoors unless a gathering has 100 or more people.
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 7:23 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Starting on Thursday, Michigan residents can now gather without masks during outdoor events under certain guidelines, according to a press release from the State Emergency Operations Center. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has updated its COVID-19 Gatherings and Face Mask epidemic order, which will now not require masks outdoors unless a gathering has 100 or more people.

In addition to this change, anyone fully vaccinated and not experiencing symptoms is not required to wear a mask at residential gatherings, including indoors. New guidance for organized sports no longer requires routine COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated participants if they are asymptomatic. Masks continue to be required for contact sports but are no longer required outdoors during active practice and competition for non-contact sports. Softball and baseball players, for example, will be required to wear a mask in a dugout but not when at bat or while playing first base.

MDDHS continues to urge Michiganders to follow guidelines set by the CDC, even in places where they are not required by an epidemic order. This means masking up whenever people who aren’t fully vaccinated are around other people who they do not live with.

“The commitment by Michiganders to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is allowing us to move toward a return to normal,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “The vaccines work. That means once Michiganders are fully vaccinated, they do not have to abide by as many health guidelines because of the protection the vaccine provides from the spread of the virus. Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer launched the MI Vacc to Normal plan to set vaccine milestones to enable a return toward normalcy. This week we are taking further steps in that direction.”

“Getting your vaccine is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “Vaccines give you the freedom and peace of mind to be able to do more things, but we still have work to do to reach our goal of vaccinating at least 70% of residents ages 16 and up. Get one of the three safe and effective vaccines as soon as you are able, and please remember you need to get your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to get the full immunity that these vaccines offer.”

To date, 39.3% of Michigan residents 16 and older had been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and 50.6% had received at least a first dose.

Updates to the Gatherings and Masks Order encourage outdoor events with larger capacities permitted for entertainment and recreational facilities and for sports stadiums and arenas that hold events outdoors. This includes:

  • Large outdoor events, including festivals, fairs, and golf tournaments will be able to exceed the current 1,000-person limit so long as they create and post a safety plan consistent with the MDHHS Large Outdoor Event Guidance, and no more than 20 persons per 1,000 square feet are gathered in any space available to patrons.
  • Outdoor stadiums and arenas:
  • Stadiums complying with enhanced protocols will continue to be allowed to operate at 20% of their fixed seating capacity. For example, a stadium with a maximum capacity complying with enhanced protocols would be permitted to host 8,000 patrons.
  • Otherwise, for stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,000 patrons may be gathered (previously 750).
  • For stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 10,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,500 patrons may be gathered.
  • Residential outdoor gatherings are allowed up to 50 people. Or, where density does not exceed 20 persons per 1,000 square feet of usable outdoor space, up to 300 people may be gathered.

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