LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday evening that masks will no longer be required for those who are at outdoor gatherings with less than 100 people.
The updated order goes into effect Thursday, May 6, and lasts through May 31, at which point the health department will reevaluate the updated order based on vaccination and case rates, a spokesperson for the department confirmed to 7 Action News.
“The commitment by Michiganders to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is allowing us to move toward a return to normal,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “The vaccines work. That means once Michiganders are fully vaccinated, they do not have to abide by as many health guidelines because of the protection the vaccine provides from the spread of the virus. Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer launched the MI Vacc to Normal plan to set vaccine milestones to enable a return toward normalcy. This week we are taking further steps in that direction.”
The health department adds that fully vaccinated people who are not experiencing COVID symptoms are not required to wear masks at residential gatherings, this includes indoors, according to the updated order. This follows the announcement of a CDC recommendation supported by the Biden Administration that states fully vaccinated Americans can resume some outdoor activities without wearing masks.
Additionally, masks are still required for contact sports but aren't required outdoors during active practice and competition for non-contact sports. And routine COVID-19 testing is no longer required for fully vaccinated participants if they're asymptomatic under this updated order.
In late April, Gov. Whitmer announced an outline on loosening COVID restrictions in the states. She tweeted a video Tuesday about mask relaxation.
Starting Thursday, May 6th, we are relaxing protocols for outdoor activities. We are making incredible strides to ensure everyone gets vaccinated. Because of this, we can take further steps to get Vacc to Normal and enjoy larger outdoor gatherings with our friends and family. pic.twitter.com/NbCUJIogAK— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 5, 2021
According to the announcement, some restrictions will be lifted when more than half of Michiganders have had at least their first dose. The state has a goal to get 70% of the population vaccinated to near herd immunity.
Whitmer said the state plans to have checkpoints along the way that will allow the gradual lifting of restrictions.
Michigan's update to the gatherings and masks order encourages outdoor events with larger capacities permitted for entertainment and recreational facilities and for sports stadiums and arenas that hold events outdoors. This includes:
- Large outdoor events, including festivals, fairs, and golf tournaments will be able to exceed the current 1,000-person limit so long as they create and post a safety plan consistent with the MDHHS Large Outdoor Event Guidance, and no more than 20 persons per 1,000 square feet are gathered in any space available to patrons.
- Outdoor stadiums and arenas:
> Stadiums complying with enhanced protocols will continue to be allowed to operate at 20% of their fixed seating capacity. For example, a stadium with a maximum capacity complying with enhanced protocols would be permitted to host 8,000 patrons.> Otherwise, for stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,000 patrons may be gathered (previously 750).
> For stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 10,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,500 patrons may be gathered.
- Residential outdoor gatherings are allowed up to 50 people. Or, where density does not exceed 20 persons per 1,000 square feet of usable outdoor space, up to 300 people may be gathered.