FAQs for the February 4th Gatherings and Face Mask Order

Face Masks

Q: How is face mask defined under this Order?

A: Face mask means a tightly woven cloth or other multi-layer absorbent material that closely covers an individual's mouth and nose. Medical or surgical grade masks are included within this definition.

Q: May a face shield be worn in place of a face mask?

A: No. The CDC does not recommend the use of face shields as a substitute for cloth face masks. However, a face shield covering the eyes, nose, and mouth can be worn in addition to a cloth mask if desired. Moreover, a face shield may be worn by younger children who are not required to wear a cloth mask, in other settings when a face mask is not required.

Q: Can schools require a doctor's note for people who request a mask exemption in a school?

A: Yes. Consistent with the Return to School guidance, schools are permitted (and in fact recommended) to require a doctor's note for persons seeking an exemption from the face masks requirement.

Q: Are masks required at all times within gyms and indoor exercise facilities?    

A: Yes.

Q: May face masks be removed for the purposes of smoking?

A: No. There is no exemption for mask removal for the purpose of smoking. Accordingly, it is a violation of the Order for a person to remove their face mask to smoke tobacco or any other substance (including vaping, marijuana, or herbal substances) while participating in a gathering. This means that tobacco specialty retail stores (including hookah lounges), cigar bars, and other venues that hold an exemption from Part 126 of the Public Health Code cannot permit smoking in their facility.

Gathering sizes and capacity limits

Q: What does "indoors" mean for the purposes of this Order?

A: "Indoors" means a location that is fully or partially enclosed on the top and:

  • fully or partially enclosed on two or more contiguous sides; or
  • if fully or partially enclosed on two non-contiguous sides, any part of that space that is more than 8 feet from an open side is indoors.

Indoor spaces, therefore, include most buildings (such as barns and garages), vehicles (such as buses and trains), and temporary structures (including tents or canopies with side walls or coverings).

Tents with one side are not indoors. Tents with two opposite sides are indoors, except for the spaces within them that are within 8 feet of an open side. Tents with two adjacent sides, three sides, or four sides, are all indoors. The placement of a tent next to a wall, building, or other structure is equivalent to a side. Opening a doorway in the middle of a side does not make that side open. For more information about indoor spaces that are permitted for dining, see Outdoor Seating Enclosures guidance.

Q: What forms of dining at food service establishments are permitted under this Order?

A: Dining at a food service establishment is permitted as follows:

  • Outdoor dining at a food service establishment is permitted only in designated dining areas where patrons are seated. In those settings, no more than 6 patrons may be seated together, and each group of patrons must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart. Patrons should keep masks on at all times, except when eating or drinking. A permitted outdoor food service establishment setting also includes a single household dining inside an igloo, hut, or other small, enclosed space, provided that employees enter fleetingly or not at all. Representatives of food service establishments wishing to explore options like these should ensure compliance with any applicable local regulations. Outdoor dining is allowed after 10:00 PM as long as the establishment complies with all other applicable requirements of this Order.
  • Indoor dining is permitted only in designated dining areas where patrons are seated. In those settings, no more than 6 patrons may be seated together. Each group of patrons must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart; groups are not permitted to intermingle. Patrons should keep masks on at all times, except when eating or drinking. Establishments offering indoor dining may not exceed 25% of normal seating capacity or 100 people – whichever is less. Between 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM, sales of all food and beverages must cease, areas for indoor dining must be closed, and guests/patrons are not permitted to eat and/or drink indoors.

Q: Can a guest be provided water outside the designated hours permitted for indoor dining? 

A: Under the current Order's rules for indoor dining, between 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM, sales of all food and beverages must cease, areas for indoor dining must be closed, and guests/patrons are not permitted to eat and/or drink indoors. Food and beverages may not be provided as part of an all-inclusive package during these hours. Nevertheless, facilities may make water available as a courtesy for guests to allow for adequate hydration.

Q: Do all staff members of a dining establishment need to be gone by 10:00 PM?

No. Although the indoor dining areas must be closed by 10:00 PM, staff may remain on site as necessary to carry out restaurant operations in compliance with this Order.

Q: What does "fixed seating" mean?

A: Fixed seating is attached to the floor, such as bleachers, auditorium risers, stadium seats, or restaurant booths.

Q: What workers are still allowed or required to work in person?

A: Work should be completed remotely unless attendance is strictly required to perform job duties. See MDHHS's Guidance for Employers (Nov. 6, 2020) and MIOSHA's Emergency Rules (Oct. 14, 2020). 

Q: Are local government offices still permitted to be open to the public?

A: Yes.

Q: Are public meetings or board meetings permitted under this Order?

A: Yes, though only up to 10 persons from up to two households may gather for a meeting. Under Public Act 254 of 2020, public meetings may be conducted virtually for any reason through March 31, 2021.

Should a board determine that in-person attendance is necessary for some of its members, it must establish procedures to accommodate the remote attendance of other members.

The public may also attend the meeting in person. However, group size must be limited to 10 persons from up to two households, and groups must not intermingle. All persons attending the meeting in person must also abide by the Order's mask requirements and capacity and density limitations. All meetings covered by the Open Meetings Act – whether conducted virtually or in person – must also comply with Public Act 254 of 2020.

Q: Are visits between foster children and their birth parents, supervised by a caseworker, permitted under this Order?

A: Yes. Parents have a legal right under the probate code to have parenting time with their children at least every 7 days. This has traditionally meant in-person contact unless infeasible or a court order prohibits it. Under this Order, these in-person visits remain permitted at this time, supervised by a caseworker.

Q: Are direct care workers who provide in-home services (such as those who assist elderly or disabled residents with activities of daily living) permitted to continue serving clients in their homes?

A: Yes. This includes individual caretakers and multi-person care teams.

Q: Are airport restaurants open for in-person dining?

A: Yes, airport restaurants must follow the same rules and capacity limits as restaurants. In those settings, no more than 6 people may be seated together, and each group of people must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart. People should keep masks on at all times, except when eating or drinking. Establishments offering indoor dining may not exceed 25% of normal seating capacity or 100 people – whichever is less.

Q: May religious venues host other gatherings such as a bake sale, craft fair, public lecture, or youth group?

A: Yes. However, all activities – other than religious services – conducted in a place of worship are subject to this Order's mask requirements, gathering requirements, and capacity limits.

In-person gatherings are permitted where no more than a total of 10 people from 2 households are gathered indoors. Outdoor gatherings may be conducted with no more than a total of 25 people from 3 households. If a gathering is held in an auditorium for non-religious services, it may be subject to this Order’s restrictions applied to recreational facilities.

Q: May workplaces, community centers, or other venues continue to host blood drives under this Order?

A: Yes.

Q: Can organizations hold CPR classes?

A: Yes.

Q: Are in-person jury trials allowed?

A: Yes. This Order does not prohibit in-person jury trials; the decision on how to conduct judicial hearings is left to the court's discretion. Physical distancing and masking are strongly encouraged.

Q: Are nursing, social work, and dental included within "medical personnel" for the purposes of section 2(c)(5) and "medical services" for the purpose of section 8(f)?

A: Yes.

Q: May racetracks operate under this Order?

A: Yes.

Q: May "millionaire parties" (charity poker events) operate under this Order?

A: Yes, these activities may operate provided they comply with rules for such settings.

Q: Are steam rooms, ice plunges, saunas, and hot tubs at gyms or spas required to close?

A: No. These facilities may be open for individual use or incidental gatherings of individuals observing capacity limits for indoor non-fixed gatherings.

Q: Under this Order, may behavioral health services still be provided in person?

A: Yes. Services and activities specified in an individual plan of service (IPOS) for persons with disabilities are considered medical treatment under this Order. They may be provided in person (without limitations due to this Order's gathering limits). This includes services provided in the home, in communities, and at day centers.

Q: May adult day programs for people with behavioral health needs (such as drop-in centers, clubhouses, or adult skill-building programs) continue in-person operations under this Order?

A: Programs are permitted to remain open to provide physical and behavioral health services for residents, including mental health, substance use, and developmental disability services (such as counseling, group programs, peer coaching, and vocational, physical, or occupational therapy). In-person social activities, group fitness, adult education, or enrichment programs are not permitted unless specified in an Individual Plan of Service (IPOS). All programs should follow the guidance provided by MDHHS specific to their operations and relevant MIOSHA guidance.

Q: May independent living programs offer congregate meals and senior social programs under this Order?

A: No.

Q: May homeless shelters and warming centers be open under this Order?

A: Yes, including for food service.

Q: Are indoor food courts open under this Order?

A: Yes, indoor food courts must abide by the same rules and capacity limits as restaurants. In those settings, no more than 6 people may be seated together, and each group of people must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart. People should keep masks on at all times, except when eating or drinking. Establishments offering indoor dining may not exceed 25% of normal seating capacity or 100 people – whichever is less.

Q: May facilities otherwise closed to members of the public permit members of the public to enter to use restroom facilities under this Order?

A: Yes. Additionally, facilities should continue to comply with MCL 446.72, which requires that individuals with eligible medical conditions be permitted to use employee-only restrooms under certain conditions.

 

Exercise and Athletics

Q: What organized sports are permitted under this Order?

A: Beginning Monday, February 8 ,2021, organized sports are permitted as follows:

  • Non-contact sports – practices and competitions are permitted if all participants always maintain at least 6 feet of distance from each other and if the gatherings do not exceed 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the fire marshal.
  • Contact sports – practices and competitions are prohibited unless sports organizers:
    • Ensure participants wear masks unless unsafe to do so;
    • If unsafe for participants to remain masked, comply with the enhanced testing regimen specified in MDHHS's Guidance for Athletics, which will be available on February 7, 2021; and
    • Only host gatherings for the purpose of practice or competition if they also comply with the capacity limitations at non-residential gatherings under this Order. 

Examples of contact sports include: football, basketball, rugby, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, hockey, boxing, futsal, and martial arts with opponents. Sports practices/conditioning sessions for contact sports are permitted, provided that contact does not occur between players.

Q: Is it ok that school teams meet for practices and competitions even while attending school virtually?

Yes. Each school district has discretion on whether to choose to open classrooms and conduct in-person lessons. Similarly, each district may choose whether to allow students to participate in sports. School districts must comply with section 6 of this Order. Even when not otherwise required, sports organizers should comply with MDHHS's Guidance for Athletics.

Q: May athletes remove their masks on the sideline during a sports competition in order to hydrate?

A: Yes. Athletes may temporarily lift or lower their face masks while on the sideline to hydrate. To facilitate social distancing, hydration stations should be at least 6 feet away from any seating area.

Q: Are group fitness classes permitted to operate?

A: Yes, provided there is no physical contact between participants, participants maintain at least 6 feet of distance from one another at all times, and all participants wear a face mask.

Q: May ski facilities operate?

A: Yes, skiing areas are permitted to remain open. Distancing measures, such as closing off seats on ski lifts, are encouraged. Gathering in indoor facilities such as lodges and restaurants are permitted subject to the limitations of this Order.

Q: What activities are currently permitted at indoor and outdoor ice rinks and roller rinks?

A: Ice and roller rinks may be open for non-contact individual and group activities. This includes individual exercise, free skate/open skate, fitness classes, individual and group lessons, and sports practices, conditioning, and competition. Occupancy must be limited to 4 persons per 1,000 square feet of exercise space. 

Q: Are swim lessons permitted to happen under this Order?

A: Yes.

Q: Are personal training, individual coaching, or private lessons allowed at gyms, pools, skating rinks, and other exercise venues under this Order?

A: Yes. Individual private lessons, individual coaching, or personal training (with one participant and one coach/trainer) are permitted under Section 2(c)(2).

Q: What is the distinction between a water park and a swimming pool under this Order?

A: A water park – which is not permitted to operate under this Order – is a recreational facility with water features including pools, slides, sprinklers, and the like, which primarily serves an entertainment or recreational purpose, and which is open for unstructured play. Swimming pools that are permitted to operate under this Order are those which are used for individual exercise or organized sports, such as those set up with individual lanes for lap swimming and which do not contain large open areas of water for unstructured group play.

Schools and Universities

Q: Are elementary, middle, and high schools permitted to be open for in-person instruction under this Order?

A: Yes. All schools (preschool through grade 12) may be open for in-person instruction, subject to local school district decisions on remote learning.

Q: Are elementary, middle, and high schools permitted to be open for purposes other than in-person instruction?

A: Yes. All schools (preschool through grade 12) may also offer childcare services - including care for children before or after school hours - and community support services such as meal distribution or medical care at a school-based health clinic.  

Q: What nonathletic extracurricular activities are permitted under this Order?

A: Extracurricular activities are permitted, except those where masks cannot be worn. Activities involving singing and the use of musical instruments are permitted so long as masks can be worn at all times; slit masks are permitted only when students are playing wind or brass instruments. Please see MDHHS's Guidance for Band, Choir, and Orchestra Programs for more information.

Q: Are college and university students permitted to work in medical or scientific labs or other on-campus jobs?

A: Yes. Students may work in facilities such as hospitals, labs, libraries, dining halls, or other workplaces that are open and in compliance with MIOSHA's Emergency Rules (Oct. 14, 2020).

Q: May colleges and universities host campus tours for prospective students?

A: Yes. College and university campus tours are not subject to the gathering restrictions under section 2(a) and 2(b) under this Order, but they must comply with all other requirements of this Order. 

Q: May community centers offer in-person tutoring services under this Order?

A: Yes, for children in preschool through grade 12.

Q: Under this Order, may organizations offer in-person sittings for nationally administered proctored examinations, such as the SAT, ACT, LSAT, Medical Boards, or professional licensure exams?

A: Yes, provided that the examination is not offered remotely and that those taking the examination are spaced at least 12 feet apart. 

Q: Are aviation schools permitted to operate?

A: Yes, one-on-one instruction at aviation schools is permitted.

Q: Are religious schools exempt from the gathering rules, mask requirements, or capacity limits in this Order?

A: No. These requirements apply to all schools equally. However, students and staff engaging in religious worship at a designated place of religious worship will not be subject to penalty under this Order.