FAQs for the April 19, 2021 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.

Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, neck gaiters, plastic masks, and chin shields do not provide sufficient protection and are not considered "face masks" for the purpose of this Order. For more information, please see MDHHS's Face Coverings Guidance.

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

A: No. The order does not permit and 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 children under 2 years old who are not required to wear a cloth mask, and in other settings where a face mask is not required.

Q: What face mask requirements apply to people who have been fully vaccinated?

A: A person is considered "fully vaccinated" after two weeks have passed since receiving the final dose of an FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

Fully vaccinated people are still required to wear a mask and practice social distancing when in public or in the presence of unvaccinated people. However, if everyone at a residential gathering is fully vaccinated and not experiencing the principal symptoms of COVID-19, then masks are not required.

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

A: Yes, schools are permitted 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: Generally, no. However, the removal of a mask for the purpose of smoking is allowed in a facility that provides ventilation that meets or exceeds 60 ft3/min of outdoor airflow per person.

Q: What masking requirements apply to children ages 2 and up?

A: Beginning April 26, 2021, all masking requirements under this Order apply to everyone ages 2 and up. At childcare organizations or camps, staff must make a good faith effort to ensure all children ages 2-4 are consistently masked.

Q: Do masks still need to be worn at outside gatherings?

A: Yes, people participating in gatherings are generally required to wear face masks - even when outdoors.

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 the different rules that apply to indoor and outdoor dining spaces, please see MDHHS's Dining Guide.

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

A: Work should be completed remotely unless it is strictly necessary for an employee to be in person to complete their job duties. For more information, please see MDHHS's Guidance for Employers (Nov. 6, 2020) and MIOSHA's Emergency Rules (effective through Oct. 14, 2021)

Q: Are film production companies permitted to have more than 25 staff, cast, and crew members gathered for work on a production?

A: Yes, provided that the film production sets are workplaces operating in compliance with MIOSHA's Emergency Rules (effective through Oct. 14, 2021).

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

A: Yes.

Q: What are the gathering and capacity restrictions that apply to in-person meetings of public bodies under the Open Meetings Act?

A: Beginning on March 31, 2021, public bodies can continue to hold virtual meetings under the circumstances outlined in Public Act 254 of 2020. For example, in counties or other local units of government operating under a local state of emergency or disaster, public bodies may continue to host virtual meetings.

Additionally, public bodies may meet in person. Public meetings under the Open Meetings Act 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.

Members of the public may both attend meetings and participate in public comment in person to the extent permitted under the Open Meetings Act. Overall attendance at any public meeting must not exceed 50% of the total occupancy limits established by the fire marshal. Attendees should avoid intermingling with people outside of their group and each group must remain 6 feet apart. All applicable masking and distancing requirements must be followed by everyone at all times.

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 are permitted under the supervision of 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: 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 worship - conducted in a place of worship are subject to this Order's mask requirements, gathering requirements, and capacity limits.

Indoor gatherings are permitted where no more than a total of 25 people are gathered. Outdoor gatherings are permitted where no more than 300 persons are gathered.

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

A: Yes, provided that such gatherings do not exceed a total of 25 people at any given time and that all other masking and distancing requirements are followed. If open to the public, the donations should only be accepted by appointment and donors should wait outside or in their cars for their appointment to be called, if possible.

Q: Can organizations hold CPR classes?

A: Yes.

Q: Are in-person jury trials allowed?

A: 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)(4) and "medical services" for the purpose of section 8(f)?

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

A: Yes. Behavioral and mental health services are considered "medical treatment" under this Order and are not restricted by this Order's gathering limits. This includes individual and group services provided in a residential care facility, communities, schools, offices, and 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 those related to mental health, substance use, and developmental disability (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 permitted provided they comply with the rules for such settings. 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: Yes, provided that such gatherings do not exceed a total of 25 people and that all other masking and distancing requirements are followed.

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

A: Yes. The gathering restrictions under the Order do not apply to warming/cooling centers and homeless shelters, but all masking and distancing requirements must be followed to the extent possible.

Q: What are the gathering and capacity restrictions that apply to outdoor festivals, fairs, and parades?

A: Outdoor entertainment and recreation venues are limited to a total of 1,000 patrons. Events must be designed such that groups of patrons can maintain six feet of distance from other groups at all times. Even when outside, everyone must remain masked at all times unless they are eating or drinking while sitting in a designated area.

The consumption of food or beverages is permitted only while seated in designated areas. While eating/drinking, no more than 6 people may be seated together in a group, and groups must be separated by at least 6 feet; groups may not intermingle.

Q: What are the gathering and capacity restrictions that apply to weddings, conferences, or other social gatherings at non-residential venues?

A: Because weddings, conferences, and other similar parties and events are social gatherings, they are subject to the non-residential gathering rules in Section 2(a) and 2(b) of this Order, in addition to the rules for their applicable venues.

Indoor weddings may not exceed a total of 25 persons, while outdoor weddings may not exceed a total of 300 persons. If an event has indoor and outdoor components, it must abide by the requirements for an indoor gathering.

Events must be designed such that groups of people maintain six feet of distance at all times. Everyone must remain masked at all times unless they are eating or drinking while sitting in a designated area.

The consumption of food or beverages is permitted only while seated in designated areas. While eating/drinking, no more than 6 people may be seated together in a group, and groups must be separated by at least 6 feet; groups may not intermingle. Indoor dining areas must close after 11:00 PM.

Q: What are the gathering and capacity restrictions that apply to indoor tradeshows, expositions, or similar retail settings/events?

A: These types of events may take place if they are only engaging in retail services (not food service or entertainment). Total occupancy must not exceed 50% of the limits established by the fire marshal. All masking and distancing requirements must be followed at all times.

Q: What are the gathering and capacity restrictions that apply to school events that are open to the public (e.g., athletic competitions, band/choir concerts, performing arts, etc.)?

A: Where school-sponsored events are open to the public - including friends, families, and other spectators - they are subject to the rules and restrictions applicable to entertainment and recreational facilities. All applicable masking and distancing requirements must be followed by everyone at all times.

Indoor events are limited to a total of 300 patrons/spectators at any given time and must not exceed 50% of the total occupancy limits established by the fire marshal. Outdoor events are limited to a total of 1,000 patrons/spectators at any given time and must not exceed 50% of the total occupancy limits established by the fire marshal, if applicable. Total capacity is further limited to the number of people who can fit in the space while complying with all social distancing rules: all attendees should avoid intermingling and must remain 6 feet apart from all other groups.

Patrons/spectators must remain masked at all times unless they are eating or drinking while sitting in a designated area. The consumption of food or beverages is permitted only while seated in designated areas. While eating/drinking, no more than 6 people may be seated together in a group, and groups must be separated by at least 6 feet; groups may not intermingle.

Local health departments, sports organizers, and school districts may have additional rules that must be followed and may further limit total capacity or number of spectators allowed.

Q: What are the gathering and capacity restrictions that apply to indoor entertainment or recreation venues (e.g., bowling centers, movie theaters, trampoline parks, etc.)?

A: An indoor event, party, conference, or other such social gathering may not exceed a total of 25 persons. Everyone must remain masked at all times unless they are eating or drinking while sitting in a designated area.

Even when gathering at an indoor entertainment or recreation venue, such as a bowling alley, movie theater, or trampoline park, a group of people participating in activities together is limited to 25 people. However, the entertainment or recreation venue may be open to several separate group gatherings, so long as it does not allow mingling between groups, does not exceed a total of 300 patrons at one time, and the total occupancy (including staff, patrons, and all other persons) does not exceed 50% of the limits established by the fire marshal.

At such venues, the consumption of food or beverages is permitted only while seated in designated areas. While eating/drinking, no more than 6 people may be seated together in a group, and groups must be separated by at least 6 feet; groups may not intermingle.

Q: What are the gathering and capacity restrictions that apply to banquet halls and conference venues?

A: Because banquet halls and conference venues are designed to accommodate social gatherings, they are subject to the non-residential gathering rules in Section 2(a) and 2(b) of this Order - in addition to the rules for food service establishments, entertainment facilities, or recreational facilities, as applicable.

Indoor events may not exceed a total of 25 persons, while outdoor events may not exceed a total of 300 persons. If an event has indoor and outdoor components, it must abide by the requirements for an indoor gathering.

Events at such venues must be designed such that groups of people maintain six feet of distance at all times. Everyone must remain masked at all times unless they are eating or drinking while sitting in a designated area.

The consumption of food or beverages is permitted only while seated in designated areas. While eating/drinking, no more than 6 people may be seated together in a group, and groups must be separated by at least 6 feet; groups may not intermingle. Indoor dining areas must close after 11:00 PM.

Q: What gathering rules apply to open house events and private real estate showings?

A: Any event that takes place in or at a residence must adhere to the residential gathering limits - even if the residence is vacant. Accordingly, open houses, real estate showings, and all other events at residential properties must not exceed 15 people from 3 households indoors at the same time.

Q: Are indoor playgrounds allowed to open?

A: Yes, as long as staff is present to monitor and ensure that no one comes into physical contact with anyone outside of their group. Total occupancy must not exceed 50% of the limits established by the fire marshal. All masking and distancing requirements must be followed at all times.

The consumption of food or beverages is permitted only while seated in designated areas. While eating/drinking, no more than 6 people may be seated together in a group, and groups must be separated by at least 6 feet; groups may not intermingle.

Dining and Food Service

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 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 must keep masks on at all times, except when eating or drinking. A permitted outdoor food service establishment setting also includes a single group 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 11:00 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 must keep masks on at all times except when eating or drinking. Establishments offering indoor dining may not exceed 50% of normal seating capacity or 100 people - whichever is less. Between 11:00 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.
  • When indoor dining is offered to the general public, rather than as part of an organized event, the gathering of patrons occurs incidentally. However, restaurants hosting organized events within their establishments are subject to the indoor gathering limit of 25 persons.

For more information about the different rules that apply to indoor and outdoor dining spaces, please see MDHHS's Dining Guide.

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 11:00 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 that are allowed to remain open after 11 PM for other permissible purposes (including outdoor dining, sporting events, performances, etc.) 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 11:00 PM? 

A: No. Although the indoor dining areas must be closed by 11:00 PM, staff may remain on site as necessary to carry out restaurant operations in compliance with this Order. 

Q: Are venues or organizations permitted to offer sampling of food or beverages to the public?

A: No. Under the Order, face masks may only be temporarily removed for the purposes of eating or drinking if an individual is seated at a food service establishment in compliance with the other restrictions and limitations in the Order.

Q: May venues hosting athletic events operate concessions?

A: Yes, but the consumption of food or beverages is permitted only while seated in designated areas. While eating/drinking, no more than 6 people may be seated together in a group, and groups must be separated by at least 6 feet; groups may not intermingle. Everyone must remain masked at all times unless they are eating or drinking while sitting in a designated area.

If a concession stand is a food service establishment (i.e., cooks or prepares food), then it must also abide by all other applicable rules and restrictions under the Order.

Exercise and Athletics

Q: What organized sports are permitted under this Order?

A: Organized sports are prohibited unless all individuals maintain six feet of distance from each other when not engaged in practice or competition. Generally, all individuals - including participants, coaches, staff, and spectators - are required to wear masks at all times, except as follows:

  • Contact Sports - participants are not required to wear masks while actively participating in practice or competition if:
    1. the sports organizer has determined that - due to the nature of the type of sport or activity - a mask cannot be worn safely during play;
    2. all participants have complied with the "Testing Requirements" section in MDHHS's Guidance for Athletics (April 16, 2021); and
    3. all participants have received a negative test result, as outlined in the "Testing Requirements" section in MDHHS's Guidance for Athletics (April 16, 2021).
  • Non-Contact Sports - participants are not required to wear masks while actively participating in practice or competition if:
    1. The practice or competition is outdoors; and
    2. At least six feet of distance can be consistently maintained between all individuals (including participants, coaches, staff, and spectators).

All individuals ages 13 - 19 are prohibited from participating in organized sports unless they comply with the Testing Requirements set forth in MDHHS's Guidance for Athletics (April 16, 2021). These requirements apply to both school and non-school sports.

Local health departments, venues/facilities, sports organizers, and school districts may have additional rules that must be followed and may further limit participation or the number of spectators. Even where it is not required, sports organizers are encouraged to administer a testing program as specified in MDHHS's Guidance for Athletics (April 16, 2021).

For more information about sports testing and face mask requirements, please see:

Q: Is a high school gym or indoor sports complex considered a "stadium" or "arena"?

A: Generally, no. Only a venue with a fixed seating capacity over 5,000 seats is considered a "stadium" or "arena" under this Order, and all indoor venues under 5,000 seats are limited to a maximum of 300 patrons or 50% capacity, whichever is less.

Q: Where can teams hold practices and competitions? May spectators attend?

A: Practices and competitions may be held at school facilities or other community or privately owned facilities, including stadiums or arenas (with 5,000+ fixed seating capacity). It is recommended that spectators are limited to two per organized sports participant. The total capacity of the facility or venue may be limited by local or state regulation.

The following capacity limits apply:

  • Indoor Facilities (fixed seating for less than 5,000 spectators):
    • Limited to 300 spectators
    • Total occupancy (including participants, coaches, staff, and spectators) must not exceed 50% of the capacity limits established by the fire marshal.
  • Outdoor Facilities (fixed seating for less than 5,000 spectators):
    • Limited to 1,000 spectators
    • Total occupancy (including participants, coaches, staff, and spectators) must not exceed 50% of the capacity limits established by the fire marshal, if applicable.
  • Outdoor Stadiums or Arenas (fixed seating for at least 5,000 spectators):
    • Generally limited to 1,000 spectators
    • However, may allow up to 20% fixed seating capacity if the facility does all the following:
  • Indoor Stadiums or Arenas (fixed seating for at least 5,000 spectators):
    • Limited to 375 spectators
  • Indoor Stadiums or Arenas (fixed seating for at least 10,000 spectators):
    • Limited to 750 spectators

Q: May an individual athlete be exempted from the mask requirement if he/she has a doctor's note?

A: No, there are no mask exemptions for any individual participant, team, or game/event.

If a participant cannot tolerate a mask for any reason, he/she has the option to either not participate or to adjust the level of intensity of physical activity so that wearing a cloth face mask is tolerable. For more information, please see MDHHS's Guidance for Athletics (April 16, 2021).

Q: Are school teams permitted to meet for practices and competitions even while attending school virtually?

A: 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. All students engaged in sports practice or competition must participate in a testing program as specified in the MDHHS publication MDHHS's Guidance for Athletics (April 16, 2021).

Q: Can 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, exercise facilities may operate at 30% capacity and group classes are allowed provided that everyone wears a mask and maintains at least 6 feet of distance from one another at all times.

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

A: No. These facilities may be open as long as total occupancy does not exceed 30% of the set capacity limits.

Q: Are swim lessons permitted under this Order?

A: Yes. When not swimming, masks must be worn at all times.

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 - which are permitted to open at limited capacity 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.

Q: What restrictions apply to athletic events such as 5k runs, golf tournaments, and bike races?

A: These events are non-contact sports, which are prohibited unless the sports organizer ensures that all participants maintain 6 feet of distance from each other when not engaged in the event. The following rules and restrictions apply under this Order:

  • Masking - Even during the event, all participants must be masked unless the event is outdoors and all participants maintain 6 feet of distance at all times throughout the event. 
  • Participants - The number of participants is limited to the extent allowed by the 6-foot distancing requirement.
  • Spectators - The number of spectators is limited to 1,000, and spectators must follow all distancing and mask requirements (even when outside). Spectators should avoid mingling with others from outside their group.
  • Dining - With the exception of water for participants, the consumption of food or beverages is permitted only while seated in designated areas. While eating/drinking, no more than 6 people may be seated together in a group, and groups must be separated by at least 6 feet; groups may not intermingle.

Local health departments, hosting venues/facilities, and sports organizers may have additional rules that must be followed and may further limit total allowable capacity. Even where it is not required, sports organizers are encouraged to administer a testing program as specified in MDHHS's Guidance for Athletics (April 16, 2021).

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. However, on Friday, April 9, 2021, Governor Whitmer recommended that high schools temporarily suspend in-person learning and youth sports to slow the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

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

A: Extracurricular activities related to student academic organizations, performing arts, athletics, and volunteer work 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. For more information, please see MDHHS's Guidance for Band, Choir, and Orchestra Programs (Oct. 13, 2020).

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

A: Yes, afterschool programs for children in preschool through grade 12 are exempt from the gathering rules. However, total occupancy of the center must not exceed 50% of the limits established by the fire marshal. All masking and distancing requirements must be followed at all times, to the extent possible.

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

A: Yes, provided that the examination is not offered remotely and that those taking the examination are spaced at least 6 feet apart. 

If the examination is proctored and administered by a school and open only to its own students, it may be administered consistent with section 5(a) of the Order. Masks must be worn at all times.

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 (effective through Oct. 14, 2021).

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: Are schools permitted to go on field trips?

A: Yes, but groups are limited to 25 people and must not mingle with others from outside their group. Where school-sponsored events take place off school grounds, they are subject to the rules and restrictions applicable to the hosting facility or venue. All applicable masking and distancing requirements must be followed by everyone at all times.

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.