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More People Allowed to Gather for Public Meetings, but Still Restricted

Posted on March 3, 2021 by Dene Westbrook

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued an updated Gatherings and Face Mask Order that will allow for indoor meetings of 25 persons or fewer. The order takes effect on Friday, March 5, 2021, at 12:01 AM and remains in effect through Monday, April 19, 2021, at 11:59 PM. This allows for public bodies to conduct public meetings in-person following certain guidelines and restrictions, if they so choose.

Under the order, indoor gatherings at non-residential venues are allowed as long as there are no more than 25 people gathered at one time. There is no limitation on the number of households, but you must adhere to social distancing, mitigation measures and adopt heightened standards of facility cleaning per the changes to the Open Meetings Act in Public Act 254 of 2020.

While the order lifts capacity requirements, it doesn’t require public bodies to meet in person. Public meetings may continue to be held virtually for any reason before March 31, 2021. The virtual meeting must allow for two-way communication between members of the public and members of the public body, and must be properly noticed. The notice must include why the public body is meeting virtually, how the public, including those with disabilities, are able to participate, and how the public may contact members of the public body to provide input or ask questions. Also, publish the notice on the public body’s website at least 18 hours before the meeting is scheduled to be held, and the meeting agenda online at least two hours before the meeting begins.

If a sunset extension for no reason virtual meetings is not approved before March 31, 2021, a local unit of government may declare a local state of emergency or state of disaster pursuant to law or charter or local ordinance to continue to meet remotely if meeting in-person would risk the personal health or safety of members of the public or the public body if the meeting were held in person. If interested, consult with your municipal attorney.

Other capacity changes in the updated order include:

  • Restaurants and bars are allowed to be at 50% capacity up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. There is now an 11 p.m. curfew.
  • Outdoor non-residential gatherings where people interact across households are permitted up to 300, allowing larger outdoor events to resume.
  • Indoor entertainment venues are allowed to be at 50% capacity, up to 300 people.
  • Exercise facilities are allowed to be at 30% capacity with restrictions on distancing and mask requirements.
  • Retail is allowed to be at 50% capacity.
  • Casinos are allowed to be at 30% capacity.
  • Indoor stadiums and arenas are allowed have 375 if seating capacity is under 10,000; 750 if seating capacity is over 10,000.
  • Outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities may host up to 1,000 patrons.

MDHHS Capacity Limits Fact Sheet

Social Gathering Guidance

Outdoor Seating Infographic

MML’s OMA Fact Sheet

The League will continue to provide updates as any new information becomes available.

Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at jrigterink@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

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