September 23, 2021

Volume XI, Number 266


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MDHHS COVID-19 Order: Relaxed Restrictions on Restaurants and Other Gatherings Take Effect March 5

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced revisions to its Gatherings and Face Mask Order that relax restaurant capacity restrictions and loosen gathering requirements in other settings. Specifically, the revised Gatherings and Face Mask Order, which takes effect on Friday, March 5 permits increased capacity limitations at residential and nonresidential gatherings, as well as other entertainment and recreational facilities. A summary of the Order's most notable changes can be found below.


  • Indoor gatherings of up to 15 individuals from three households are permitted at residential venues, and nonresidential venues may host gatherings of up to 25 individuals.

  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 individuals are permitted at residential venues, and nonresidential venues may host gatherings of up to 300 individuals.

  • As a condition of hosting a gathering, organizers and facilities must design the gathering to encourage and maintain social distancing and must ensure that persons not part of the same group maintain six feet of distance from one another to the extent possible. Additionally, all persons participating in the gathering are required to wear a face mask, unless an exemption applies.


  • Restaurants may operate at the lesser of (i) 50 percent of their normal seating capacity (up from 25 percent), or (ii) 100 persons. Restaurants also may remain open until 11 PM instead of 10 PM.

  • Groups of patrons must still be separated by six feet from other groups, and no more than six persons may be seated at a table.

  • Masks are still required to be worn by patrons, unless an individual is eating or drinking while seated.

Other Capacity Changes

  • Retail stores, libraries, and museums may operate at 50 percent capacity.

  • Exercise facilities and indoor pools may operate at 30 percent occupancy limits.

  • Indoor venues including stadiums and arenas may operate at 50 percent capacity, provided (i) no more than 375 patrons are permitted to be gathered at venues with seating capacities under 10,000, and (ii) no more than 750 patrons are permitted to be gathered at venues with seating capacities over 10,000.

  • Outdoor entertainment and recreation facilities may permit gatherings of up to 1,000 patrons.

While the Order generally relaxes restrictions as noted above, individuals remain required to wear masks and maintain social distancing while in these various settings. Similarly, exercise facilities, restaurants, and personal care service establishments must continue to abide by contract tracing requirements as set forth in the Order, which include keeping accurate records of a patron's date and time of entry, name, and contact information. 

© 2021 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 62

About this Author

Seth W. Ashby, Varnum Law Firm, Grand Rapids, Corporate Planning Attorney, Private Equity Lawyer

Seth is a partner and member of the firm’s Business and Corporate Services Team. He is experienced in business representation, planning and counseling. He focuses on mergers and acquisitions, as well as private equity, securities, distressed asset and restructuring, and commercial transactions. Seth also advises clients with respect to corporate governance, regulatory and other general corporate matters.

Ethan Beswick Business Attorney Varnum Law Firm

Ethan Beswick is an associate attorney with a business and corporate service practice and additional experience in tax, real estate and aircraft matters. He provides general business and transactional work and has experience in mergers and acquisitions, business transactions, financing, contracts, and day-to-day business issues.

Ethan also works regularly with business tax, international tax, and other tax related issues, and assists clients with real estate sales and acquisitions, commercial leasing matters, and real estate financing transactions.

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