Whitmer tightens restrictions on recreation, business operations, bars and restaurants

Lansing capitol
Posted at 9:13 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 21:29:44-04

LANSING, Mich. — From remote working to bars and casinos, Executive Orders 2020-160 and 2020-161 were issued Wednesday and define restrictions for Michigan residents and businesses.

Under new Executive Orders, Governor Gretchen Whitmer details the procedures businesses must follow to stay open, if they are allowed to open at all.

“As we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Michiganders cannot afford to drop our guard. We must take every step possible to saave lives, protect the brave men and women on the front lines, and avoid overwhelming our healthcare system while we continue to combat COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “After seeing a resurgence in cases connected to social gatherings across the state, we must further limit gatherings for the health of our community and economy. By taking these strong actions, we will be better positioned to get our children back into classrooms and avoid a potentially devastating second wave.”

Gatherings and Recreation
EO 2020-160, the governor takes aim at large gatherings like parties, gyms, indoor theaters and cinemas. Unless a part of sections 6 and 8 - areas of northern lower peninsula and the entire U.P as described in section 12 of EO 2020-160; most indoor group activities are still closed. Gyms and fitness studios may operate outdoors as long as everyone can maintain social distancing and equipment is regularly cleaned.

Bars "that hold on-premises retailer licenses to sell alcoholic beverages must close for indoor service if they earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from sales of alcoholic beverages." according to EO 2020-160. Restaurants area required to keep people outside, except to pass through the building to get to the outdoor area, but may still sell alcoholic beverages to take home. (Section 6-b & c, EO 2020-160) Capacity is now limited to 50% and every reasonable step must be taken to keep people at least 6' apart including moving tables. Alcohol can only be sold to patrons at a table to keep people from gathering at the bar.

Anyone planning an event must make sure there are reasonable accommodations for people to practice social distancing, including restricting indoor events to 10 people or less, and outdoor events to 100 or less. Shopping malls, airport food courts, and other places with shared common areas are exempt from these restrictions. The orders call gatherings in these cases "incidental".

Pools may open unless local regulation states otherwise. Outdoor pools must limit swimmers to 50% capacity. Indoor pools in Regions 6 & 8 are able to operate at 25% capacity, outside of those regions indoor pools can only be used for infant and child drowning prevention classes and, again, only at 25% capacity.

Live audiences are not allowed at sporting events except for media, the teams and team staff, and staff of the facility. Anyone allowed in must practice social distancing as much as the game will allow.

The orders limit casinos to 15% occupancy and require face coverings for all patrons and staff. Indoor smoking is prohibited and live events, valet service, self-serve buffets, and coat check must all close.

Outdoor activities are largely encouraged, as long as there is the ability to socially distance yourself from people outside your household.

Business Operations
Business operations are tightened under EO 2020-161. Employers are encouraged to make accommodations for employees to work from home as much as possible and provide detailed COVID-19 preparedness and response plans that align with OSHA standards, including training, reporting and testing for possible exposures, requiring face coverings, and the proper use of PPE. Employers must implement rotating shifts and stagger breaks where possible "to reduce the number of employees in the facility at the same time."

Retail stores including museums and libraries are restricted to 25% capacity if their building is under 50,000 square feet, while bigger buildings must limit customers to 4 people for every 1,000 square feet and create 2 hours a week for dedicated cleaning time. Offices will have to "Take steps to reduce entry congestion and to ensure the effectiveness of screening (e.g., by staggering start times, adopting a rotational schedule in only half of employees are in the office at a particular time)." (EO 2020-161 section 7-c)

The orders are extremely detailed, covering everything from recreation, to business operations and in-home services, to medical procedures. All indoor facilities must have plans in place to help their employees understand the risks and their rights when it comes to COVID-19 exposure, including record keeping for contact-tracing should an outbreak occur and how to report their employer for violating the orders.

Governor Whitmer underlined that these orders do not restrict Michiganders from practicing their religious beliefs or take any powers away from the legislative and judicial branches of Michigan's Government and "nothing in this order shall be taken to abridge protections guaranteed by the state or federal constitution under these emergency circumstances." Executive Order 2020-160 goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on July 31st. Once in effect, it will rescind Executive Orders 2020-110, 2020-115, 2020-120, 2020-133, and 2020-143

FOX 17 encourages everyone to read the orders in full themselves as they are linked throughout the article. For questions specific to you or your business, contact the governor's office.