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FAQs for the October 29 Face Masks and Gatherings Order


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 would be 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 6(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.

Q: Will masks be required for poll workers for the election?

A: Masks are required for poll workers, poll challengers, poll watchers, and other officials administering elections. While MDHHS strongly encourages voters to wear masks when voting, voters will not be turned away on election day for failure to wear a mask.

DHHS has provided guidance for voters on safe voting, and additional recommendations on accessible voting for those with disabilities.

Additional information from the Secretary of State about COVID-safe election protocols can be found here.

Q: Does the exception to the mask requirement while eating and drinking mean that masks are not required while seated in restaurants and bars?

A: No. Masks are required when not actively eating and drinking – for example, before food has been served, between courses, or while still seated after finishing a meal. People are encouraged to minimize the amount of time with their mask off, and should put their mask back on as soon as they are done eating or drinking.


Gathering sizes and capacity limits

Q: Are residential gatherings over 10 people allowed inside?          

A: No.

Q: How is “indoors” defined for the purposes of this order?

A: As used in the order, “indoors” means within a space enclosed on fully or partially on the top and fully or partially on the sides.  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).

Q: What is the capacity limit for gyms?

A: Workout classes or other gatherings within a gym are capped at 50 people unless held outside. Overall gym capacity is limited to 25% of total occupancy.


Other settings


Q: Prior executive orders prevented buffets, salad bars, and self-serve drinks stations from operating. Are those rules still in force?

A: No, those activities are currently permitted under MDHHS epidemic orders and MIOSHA workplace safety rules. However, general recommendations, such as designing layouts to ensure that customers remain six feet apart from each other and do not congregate, and regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces, still apply.

Q: What is the definition of public transit?

A: Public transit includes buses, trains, subways, light rail, or vans operated by a state or local government or contracted by a state or local government to provide transportation services for the general public. It does not include tour buses or private shuttles. Riders on public transit are required to wear face masks at all times, and to physically distance from other riders to the extent possible.

Q: Workplace gathering requirements in previous orders have been removed from this order. Does that mean that there are no longer workplace requirements around mask wearing, physical distancing, or infection control?

A: No. Workplace gathering requirements previously included in the October 9, 2020 order were no longer necessary in the October 29, 2020 order due to the adoption of the October 14, 2020 MIOSHA COVID-19 Emergency Rule. The MIOSHA rule establishes a number of COVID-safety protocols for workplaces, including cleaning and disinfection, employee health screening, adoption of physical barriers and other modifications to promote infection control, mandatory use of face masks when employees cannot consistently maintain 6 feet of distance from each other, requiring employers to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) needed by their employees, and barring sick workers from the workplace.


Other questions

Q: What is “close contact” for the purposes of this order?

A: Consistent with PA 238 and the CDC, close contact means being within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more during a 24 hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection).

Q: Is the state still using the Mi Safe Start reopening phases? If so, what phase is each region in now?

A: MDHHS will continue to update Michiganders about which reopening phase each region is in, based on current data. As of October 29, 2020, all regions in the state are in Phase 4.