October 30th, 2020

Michigan health department announces new capacity restrictions

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has announced new capacity restrictions on indoor gatherings, effective immediately.


OCTOBER 29, 2020 - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has announced new capacity restrictions on indoor gatherings, effective immediately.

Indoor venues without fixed seating must limit gatherings such as weddings, parties, and banquets to no more than 50 people, down from the maximum of 500. Restaurants, bars and other venues may seat no more than six people at a table. Starting Monday, Nov. 2, all dine-establishments must keep customers' names and phone numbers for contact-tracing purposes

Limits on attendance at residential gatherings

Indoors: Up to 10 persons
Outdoors: Up to 100 persons

Limits on attendance at non-residential venues

For Fixed Seating: No more than 500 persons are gathered, attendance is limited to 20% of the seating capacity of the venue
Without Fixed Seating: No more than 50 persons are gathered, and attendance is limited to 20 persons per 1,000 square feet in each occupied room

  • All persons at the gathering are to wear a face mask
  • Only six people are permitted at each table


Outdoor gatherings up to 1,000 persons occurring at a non-residential venue are permitted only to the extent that the organizers and venue:

  • For Fixed Seating: limit attendance to 30% of seating capacity
  • Without Fixed Seating: limit attendance to 30 persons per 1,000 square feet, including within any distinct area within the event space
  • Require that each person at the gathering wear a face mask

Read the full order here.

OCTOBER 9, 2020 -
Following the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Emergency Order on Oct. 5, 2020, MDHHS Director, Robert Gordon, issued a new Emergency Order on Oct. 9, 2020, which takes its place. This order was put into effect immediately and expires on Oct. 30, 2020.

The Oct. 9 Emergency Order ("Emergency Order Under MCL 333.2253 – Gathering Prohibition and Face Covering Order" ) reinstates many, but not all, of the provisions in Governor Whitmer's now void COVID-19 related executive orders.

The main categories of the MDHHS Oct. 9 Order can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Protection of Workers
  • Attendance and Capacity Limitations; face covering requirements
  • Face covering requirements applicable to businesses, governmental offices, schools or other operations
  • Exceptions to face covering requirements
  • Additional requirements applicable to food service establishments
  • Additional requirements applicable to organized sports
  • Contract tracing requirements applicable to certain businesses
  • Penalties for violations

A full menu with details for each category of the new Emergency Order can be found at the bottom of the Miller Canfield resource page here.

OCTOBER 5, 2020 - Following the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that invalidated Governor Whitmer's COVID-19 related executive orders, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issues an emergency order restricting gathering sizes, requiring face coverings in public spaces, and placing limitations on bars and other venues.

These emergency orders were put in place under Act 368 of 1978, which states if the MDHHS director determines that control of an epidemic is necessary to protect public health, the director may prohibit the gathering of people for any purpose and establish procedures to be put in place during the epidemic to ensure the continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws.

This new emergency order reinstates the following measures:

  • Requirement to wear masks at indoor and outdoor gatherings during any occurrence where persons from multiple households are present in a shared space in a group of two or more.
    • Businesses and government offices are required to enforce the mandate for gatherings on their premises. Masks are also required at schools, except for in Region 6 as defined by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council.
  • Limitations on gatherings, including indoor gatherings of more than 10 people and up to 500 people at a non-residential venues are permitted within the following limits:
    • Venues with fixed seating must limit attendance to 20% of normal capacity, or, in Michigan Economic Recovery Council Region 6, up to 25% of normal capacity.
    • Venues without fixed seating must limit attendance to 20 persons per 1,000 square feet in each occupied room, or, in Michigan Economic Recovery Council Region 6, 25 persons per 1,000 square feet.
    • Non-residential outdoor gatherings of 100-1,000 persons at venues with fixed seating are permitted up to 30% of normal capacity and at 30 persons per 1,000 square feet at venues without fixed seating.
    • Bars are required to close indoor common areas where people can congregate, dance, or otherwise mingle. Indoor gatherings are prohibited anywhere alcoholic beverages are sold, except for table services where parties are separated from one another by at least six feet.

This order is effective immediately, and remains in effect until Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Read the full emergency order here.

Michigan Supreme Court rules against Governor Whitmer's emergency powers

OCTOBER 2, 2020 - In a 4-3 majority opinion, the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that Governor Gretchen Whitmer did not have the authority to declare or extend states of emergency in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic via the Emergency Management Act of 1976 and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act from 1945.

“We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government— including its plenary police powers— and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely," wrote Justice Stephen Markman in the majority opinion.

“As a consequence, the EPGA cannot continue to provide a basis for the Governor to exercise emergency powers," he added.

“Our decision leaves open many avenues for the Governor and Legislature to work together to address this challenge and we hope that this will take place,” reads a footnote in the ruling.

It is unclear at this time what impact this will have on the Executive Orders that are currently in place. Further updates will be posted here as they are made available.

Read the full Michigan Supreme Court opinion here.