MDHHS Three-Week Epidemic Order & MIOSHA Emergency Rules – 11/15/20

MDHHS Three-Week Epidemic Order

On Sunday, November 15, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new emergency order that enacts a three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates. The order takes effect Wednesday, November 18 and is in place through December 8.

Under this order, indoor residential gatherings are limited to two households at any one time; however, MDHHS strongly urges families to pick one single household to interact with over the next three weeks, consistent with new guidance released by the department. The order is aimed at limiting residential and non-residential gatherings where COVID-19 spreads rapidly.

  • Bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery only.
  • A gathering at a retail store, library, or museum must not exceed 30% of total occupancy limits established by the State Fire Marshal or a local fire marshal.
    • A retail store, library, or museum may permit one customer at a time to enter if strict adherence to the 30% total occupancy limit would otherwise result in closure.
  • Gatherings are prohibited at entertainment venues, including auditoriums, arenas, banquet halls, cinemas, conference centers, concert halls, performance venues, sporting venues, stadiums, and theaters.
  • Gatherings are also prohibited at recreational facilities and places of public amusement, including amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, casinos, night clubs, skating rinks, strip clubs, water parks, and trampoline parks.
  • Gatherings at exercise facilities must not exceed 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the State Fire Marshal or a local fire marshal, but gatherings for group fitness activities or classes are prohibited.
  • Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators; however, all other organized sports must stop.
  • Colleges and high schools may proceed with remote learning, but must end in-person classes.

This order should be applied to businesses, along with the requirements in the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) Emergency Rules (more info below).

It should be noted in regard to masks, the order states under section 7 (d): “A person responsible for a business, store, office, government office, school, organized event, or other operation, or an agent of such person, may not assume that someone who enters the facility without a face mask falls within one of the exceptions specified in section 8 of this order, including the exception for individuals who cannot medically tolerate a face mask. An individual’s verbal representation that they are not wearing a face mask because they fall within a specified exception, however, may be accepted.”

Additional Resources

MIOSHA Emergency Rules

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, within the Michigan Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), promulgated Emergency Rules which clarify the safety requirements employers must follow to protect their employees from COVID-19.

Much of the requirements under the Emergency Rules were included in former Executive Orders, now rescinded. Under the Emergency Rules, businesses that resume in-person work must, among other things, have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to their employees that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE), steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions. Special attention should be paid to the language on remote work under 5(8): “The employer shall create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.” More information on what that policy should look like can be found in the State’s FAQ.

MIOSHA’s Emergency Rules implement workplace safeguards for all Michigan businesses and specific requirements for industries, including manufacturing, construction, retail, health care, exercise facilities, and restaurants and bars. Industries that were previously required to provide mandatory temperature checks, including the manufacturing sector, are no longer required to do so and instead required to, under 6(1), “[…] conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace, including, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19, together with, if possible, a temperature screening.”

To further protect workers from the increased spread of COVID-19, MIOSHA launched a State Emphasis Program (SEP) focused on office settings that addresses the need for increased vigilance, education, and enforcement on remote work policies. MIOSHA will conduct inspections at workplaces with traditional office settings to review how rules are being followed and enhance compliance. While inspections will seek to help employers comply with safety standards, if the inspections determine deficiencies in the employer’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plans, citations, and penalties up to $7,000 may be issued.

A set of online resources at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety provides businesses with the guidelines they and their employees must follow and includes a sample COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and a reopening checklist to help businesses put safeguards in place. Businesses can also find posters for employees and customers, factsheets, and educational videos.

Additional Resources

The contents of this web page are made available to you for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice on any matter. This material may not reflect the most current COVID-19 developments and is subject to revision. In no event will Traverse Connect be liable for any decisions made or action taken in relation upon the information provided through this document.

New MDHHS Order 10/29/20

On Thursday, Oct. 29, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) revised and extended its epidemic order. This comes as the previous order was set to expire on Oct. 30, 2020. Although most of the order is unchanged, new provisions target indoor gatherings where COVID has spread most rapidly. There are also enforcement mechanisms for these orders.

This MDHHS order is effective immediately, although restaurants and bars have until Nov. 2 to comply with contact tracing requirements. This order remains in effect until rescinded.

Order highlights

  • The maximum gathering size for indoor gatherings such as weddings, parties, and banquets which occur in nonresidential settings without fixed seating is reduced from 500 persons to 50 persons, and attendance is limited to 20 persons per 1,000 square feet in each occupied room.
  • For bars, restaurants, and social events outside private homes, indoor party sizes at a single table are now restricted to six people.
  • As of Nov. 2, bars and restaurants must maintain accurate records of the names and phone numbers of patrons who purchase food for consumption on the premises, and the date and time of entry.
  • The order treats all regions of the state the same; the Traverse City region (region 6) has now been moved into Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan.
  • This infographic outlines the highlights of the order.
  • All order requirements (not just highlights) are detailed in this infographic.

Phase 4

There are several requirements that have been tightened in region 6 with the move down to phase 4. This means that the new epidemic order applies consistently across the state:

  • Retail is impacted by this move and retail capacity is back to 50% of total occupancy limits.
  • Fixed and non-fixed seating event limitations are now in-line with the rest of the state.
  • Face masks in schools are now the same across the state.

Enforcement

Violations are punishable by a civil fine up to $1,000 and may also be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $200, or both. In addition, failure to comply with orders may violate a business or professional’s licensure requirements or present a workplace safety violation.

MIOSHA Emergency Rules

The requirements of the MDHHS order should be coordinated with the MIOSHA Emergency Rules, which clarify the safety requirements employers must follow to protect their employees from COVID-19.

  • Much of the requirements under the Emergency Rules were included in former Executive Orders, now rescinded.
  • Under the Emergency Rules, businesses that resume in-person work must, among other things, have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to their employees.
  • A notable difference in these rules is language on remote work under 5(8): “The employer shall create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.”
  • MIOSHA’s Emergency Rules implement workplace safeguards for all Michigan businesses and specific requirements for industries, including manufacturing, construction, retail, health care, exercise facilities, and restaurants and bars.
  • Industries that were previously required to provide mandatory temperature checks, including the manufacturing sector, are no longer required to do so and instead required to, under 6(1), “[…] conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace, including, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19, together with, if possible, a temperature screening.”

A set of online resources at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety provides businesses with the guidelines they and their employees must follow and includes a sample COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and a reopening checklist to help businesses put safeguards in place. Businesses can also find posters for employees and customers, factsheets, and educational videos.

Additional Resources

The contents of this web page are made available to you for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice on any matter. This material may not reflect the most current COVID-19 developments and is subject to revision. In no event will the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance be liable for any decisions made or action taken in relation upon the information provided through this document. 

ALLIANCE PREPS FOR A NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINTER

Northern Michigan businesses call for higher capacity limits to stay open through the new year

NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance sent a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer advocating for higher capacity limits for northern Michigan bars, restaurants, and meetings and banquet centers. The organization represents 16 chambers and economic development organizations and over 7,000 member businesses from all across northern Michigan. 

This request comes as businesses pivot from summer to winter service and prepare for the colder months. “The colder weather is already here and outdoor seating is not an option for businesses, like some of our bars, who are unable to offer indoor service due to COVID restrictions,” said Amy Clickner, vice-chairperson of the Alliance and CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. “Higher indoor capacity is a necessity to keep these businesses open and protect jobs.”

Regions 6 & 8 were able to reopen first during the initial phases of reopening. Bars that earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from sales of alcoholic beverages cannot currently offer indoor service. In an Alliance survey of mostly bars and restaurants, over 70% of the business respondents feel comfortable operating at a capacity of 75% or higher, considering staff availability and required safety procedures.

“Working with our public health partners to increase capacity limits is our number one priority right now,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. “If we want to be able to visit our favorite bar and restaurant establishments in the spring, we need them to be able to generate revenue during the winter season.”

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance’s letter to the Governor requested an Executive Order be issued that includes:

  • Expanded indoor capacity of 75% in regions 6 & 8 at bars, restaurants, and meetings and banquet centers if the data reported by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services falls below a three-percent positive test rate over an extended period
  • The treatment of meetings and banquets centers in regions 6 & 8 the same as bars and restaurants
  • The ability for bars and restaurants to retain the expanded capacity they gained via patios and other outdoor solutions this summer by allowing them to safely winterize those spaces while extending their temporary alcohol service permits

“Our chambers and economic development organizations have supported our businesses in reopening safely,” said Kirstie Sieloff, Director of Government Relations for the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and Traverse Connect. “We continue to share the message of ‘Stay Safe to Stay Open’ and wearing a mask to keep our businesses open and our friends and neighbors employed.” In its letter to the Governor, the Alliance affirmed that after the summer visitors have gone home, northern Michigan remains at a relatively controlled risk level.

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance continues to support chambers, economic development organizations, and their member businesses by providing timely information and advocating for rural business needs at the state and federal levels. The Alliance is engaged in delivering industry-specific information, access to funding opportunities, and ensuring the northern Michigan voice is represented in reopening discussions.

About the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance:

The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a coalition of chambers and economic development organizations including the Alpena Area Chamber, Benzie County Chamber of Commerce, Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce, Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce, Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, Traverse Connect, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Superior Community Partnership, Elk Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, Boyne Area Chamber, East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, Sault Area Chamber of Commerce, & Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The Alliance exists to advocate for rural northern Michigan and move forward rural-centric business policy.

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