MDHHS issues three-week epidemic order

Restaurants, bars ordered to close dine-in service Wednesday; in-person instruction in high schools, colleges suspended

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new emergency order Sunday that enacts a three-week pause (until Dec. 8) targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates.

The order, which takes effect Wednesday, Nov. 18, is different than the blanket stay-home action taken in the spring. The order leaves open work that cannot be performed from home, including for manufacturing, construction and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.

Effective Wednesday, restaurants and bars in Genesee County must again close dine-in service. Take-out and drive-up food service will be allowed. Also closed for three weeks are bowling centers, ice rinks and casinos in the state of Michigan.

Suspended for three weeks are in-person instruction in high schools and colleges. Middle schools and elementary schools are allowed to continue face-to-face instruction under the new public health order as long as they continue to require mask-wearing and follow other health guidelines. Fewer COVID-19 outbreaks have been associated with younger schoolchildren.

Childcare will remain open to support working parents.

High school athletic activities are also suspended for three weeks.