MDHHS Issues Updated Epidemic Order, Loosens Outdoor Gathering Restrictions

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, May 5, 2021

On April 27, 2021, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services released guidance on how schools can hold safe high school spring events, such as prom, graduation and year-end parties. It also includes information for schools that choose to implement an end-of-year school testing program.

In addition to that guidance, late yesterday, MDHHS announced an update to the current epidemic order in regard to outdoor gatherings and masks. The updated order goes into effect on May 6 and continues through May 31, 2021.

Under the order, masks are no longer required for outdoor gatherings of less than 100 people. It also establishes different mask requirements for those who are fully vaccinated, allowing for more circumstances in which a vaccinated person would not have to wear a mask. MDHHS has created a simple infographic on Choosing Safer Activities that outlines the differences.

The goal of the order is to encourage people to choose outdoor activities. To that end, it increases outdoor capacity limits for events. This includes:

  • Large outdoor events will be able to exceed the current 1,000-person limit as long as they comply with the MDHHS Large Outdoor Event Guidance and post the guidelines. The event would still be limited to no more than 20 persons per 1,000 square feet in any space available to patrons.
  • Outdoor stadiums and arenas:
  • Stadiums complying with the enhanced protocols in the large outdoor event guidance will continue to be allowed to operate at 20% of their fixed seating capacity. For example, a stadium with a maximum capacity of 40,000 that is complying with enhanced protocols would be permitted to host 8,000 patrons.
  • In stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,000 patrons may be gathered.
  • Stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 10,000 or greater without enhanced protocols may have 1,500 patrons 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.

The order also loosens restrictions around youth sports. If an athlete is fully vaccinated, they would no longer be required to do routine COVID-19 testing unless they are experiencing symptoms. Masks will continue to be required for contact sports, but for noncontact sports, they are only required during nonactive parts of practice or when athletes are close together, for example, in a dugout. Masks are not required during active practice and competition.

More information on the order, including a summary, can be found at

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