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MDHHS lifting mask requirements for outdoor gatherings of under 100 people

(Aleah Burggraff)
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 7:24 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has updated its COVID-19 Gatherings and Face Masks epidemic order. Their goal is to encourage safer outdoor activities as spring and summer bring warmer weather. Under the new order masks are generally not required outdoors, unless a gathering has 100 or more people.

The order goes into effect Thursday, May 6, and continues through Monday, May 31.

There’s a big addition in the epidemic order for people who have been able to get fully vaccinated. Anyone who is fully vaccinated and not experiencing symptoms will no longer be required to wear a mask at residential gatherings, including indoors. New guidance for organized sports no longer requires routine COVID-19 testing if participants are fully vaccinated and not showing any symptoms. Masks will continue to be required for contact sports but will no longer be a requirement outdoors during active practice or during competition for non-contact sports.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

Other updates to the order include allowing large outdoor events, including festivals, fairs, and golf tournaments  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 must complying with enhanced protocols and 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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