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FAQs for the January 13 Face Masks and Gatherings 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 that covers 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, or by athletes under certain conditions.

Q: Section 7(d) of this order states that organizations may accept a person’s verbal representation that they are not wearing a mask because they fall within an excepted group. Does this mean that schools must accept a verbal statement and cannot require a doctor’s note for people who request a mask exemption in a school?

A: No. 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.



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. 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 the order?

Outdoor dining at a food service establishment is permitted provided persons are seated no more than 6 to a table and tables are spaced at least 6 feet apart. 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. 

Indoor dining is permitted only in custodial settings, medical facilities, school and university cafeterias, shelters, and soup kitchens. In those settings, if diners are seated at tables the diners must be 6 feet apart, or members of a household may share a table and tables must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart. Diners should keep masks on at all times, except when eating or drinking.

Q: What does “fixed seating” mean?

A: Fixed seating is seating that 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 Nov. 5 Guidance for Employers and the emergency rules enacted by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity on Oct. 14.

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: In-person meetings are prohibited unless the meeting is of fewer than 25 people and is held outdoors. Under Public Act 228 of 2020, public meetings may be held virtually under certain specified circumstances.

Q: Are visits between foster children and their birth parents, supervised by a caseworker, permitted under the 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 the 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: No. However, airport restaurants, like other restaurants covered by the order, may sell food for takeaway.

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

A: Religious worship at a place of worship is exempt from enforcement of the order. However, places of worship used for all other purposes are subject to the order’s mask, gathering requirements, and capacity limits.

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, the order does not prohibit in-person jury trials; the decision on how to conduct judicial hearings is left to the discretion of the court. 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 would be considered as lower-risk entertainment, and may operate if 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, such 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: Services and activities specified in an individual plan of service (IPOS) for persons with disabilities are considered medical treatment under this order, and may be provided in person (without limitations due to the 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 counselling, 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 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: What programs and services may senior centers, senior day programs (such as PACE adult day centers), and day programs serving people with dementias/memory care centers provide under this order?

A: These day programs serving seniors may not offer in-person social programming, group health promotion or wellness programming (e.g., diabetes management), group fitness (e.g., Tai Chi or yoga), or congregate meals. Centers that offer medical treatment may continue to do so in person.

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: No.

Q: May facilities otherwise closed to members of the public, or food service establishments closed for indoor dining, permit members of the public to enter for the purposes of using 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: Non-contact sports are permitted. Competition and scrimmages for contact sports, whether indoors or outdoors, are not permitted except as provided below. 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: Under what conditions are contact sports currently permitted under this order?

A: Sports organizers who can show compliance with the enhanced testing regimen specified in the Testing and Additional Mitigation Measures for Athletic Practice and Play During Statewide Athletics ‘Pause’ section of MDHHS’s document entitled Interim Guidance for Athletics, or high schools that are participating in an MDHHS testing pilot program, may participate in contact sports. These protocols require 3 days per week of antigen testing, no social contact of any kind by athletes outside of their teammates and household members, and supervision by team medical staff.

Q: Are amateur, non-collegiate athletics, such as youth or adult recreational sports leagues, club athletics, or sports tournaments (including those for charity), permitted under this order?

A: Non-contact athletics are permitted. Contact athletics are not, unless it complies with the conditions listed above. To date, MDHHS is not aware of any amateur, non-collegiate operation that would meet these guidelines.

Q: Are dance classes, gymnastics, yoga, martial arts, and other group fitness classes permitted to operate?

A: Yes, provided there is not 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, is encouraged. Gathering is not allowed in indoor facilities such as lodges and restaurants.

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. Practices with contact, scrimmages, and competition for contact sports are not permitted.

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 the Section 2(c)(2) gathering exemption for employee/customer interactions to receive a service.

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 serves a primarily 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.

Q: Are bowling leagues allowed to hold practices or competitions under this order?

A: Yes.



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 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, as well as community support services such as meal distribution or medical care at a school-based health clinic.  Schools may also host extracurricular activities, except those that involve physical contact among participants, or where masks cannot be worn. Schools are encouraged to have activities outdoors whenever possible.

Q: What extracurricular activities are permitted under this order?

A: All extracurricular activities are permitted, except those that involve physical contact among participants or where masks cannot be worn. Activities involving singing and use of musical instruments are permitted so long as masks can be worn at all times; activities requiring removal of masks or use of a slitted mask are not permitted.

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 compliance with MIOSHA’s October 14, 2020 rule.

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.  There is no penalty, however, for students or staff engaging in religious worship at a place of religious worship.

Q: Are high school sports members or teams permitted to practice or hold competitions under this order?

A: Yes, non-contact practices and competitions are permitted. Contact sports are permitted on a very limited basis for a small number of schools participating in a MDHHS-led pilot program to complete championships for fall sports. See additional information here.