Michigan Department of Health Extends Restrictions on Indoor Gatherings Through Dec. 20

by Kristin Harlow

LANSING, MICH. — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has extended its order restricting indoor social gatherings and group activities by 12 days through Dec. 20. The department says the extension will enable it to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across the state.

Under the order, residents are urged to avoid indoor gatherings, with only two households gathering inside at any given time. Bars and restaurants must remain closed for dine-in service, but can remain open for outdoor dining, carryout and delivery. Gyms are open for individual exercise with mandatory masking, but casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes remain closed. Professional and college sports meeting “extraordinary standards for risk mitigation” may continue without spectators. Colleges, universities and high schools will continue with remote learning. There will be no in-person classes.

MDHHS will monitor the percentage of hospital beds with COVID-19 patients, the number of COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate when determining whether to reopen at the end of the 12 days.

Last week, a federal judge in West Michigan refused to block the state health department’s ban on indoor dining in restaurants and bars. The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) had attempted to prevent the extension of the partial shutdown, citing a need for “clear and specific data” to justify the sustained closure of restaurants across the state. Approximately 2,000 restaurants have closed permanently in Michigan this year, according to the organization.

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