New COVID order increases biz capacity, care facility visits

With COVID-19 infection rates holding steady, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on Tuesday announced increases to business capacity and gathering sizes, effective March 5.

Seniors will also begin to see more visitors with a new order that affects residential care facilities. It encourages communal dining and group activities and allows indoor and outdoor visitation in all counties. Visitors 13 and older are subject to COVID testing and will be required to wear face masks or other personal protective equipment.

Because all residents have been offered at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the new order takes immediate effect.

Michigan March 5 gathering orders
MDHHS created this handy guide to its March 5 health order.

Capacity changes include:

  • 50 percent capacity, up to 100 patrons, at restaurants and bars, with tables six feet apart and no more than six people per table, and an 11 p.m. curfew
  • up to 25 people at indoor non-residential gatherings, which allows public meetings and other small indoor gatherings to resume
  • up to 300 people at outdoor non-residential gatherings
  • 50 percent capacity or up to 300 people at indoor entertainment venues
  • 30 percent capacity at exercise facilities, with mask requirements and restrictions on distancing
  • 50 percent capacity at retail stores
  • 15 people from three households at indoor, residential gatherings, and up to 50 people outdoors

Casinos are now at 30 percent capacity, and indoor stadiums and arenas are allowed up to 375 or 750 attendees, depending on capacity. Outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities may host up to 1,000 patrons.

Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director, encouraged residents to continue using COVID-19 safety measures.

“More than two million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and a third vaccine will soon be arriving here in Michigan to help us end the pandemic in our state,” she said in a press release. “We urge Michiganders to continue doing what works and wearing a mask, washing their hands and avoiding crowds.”

MDHHS monitors hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19, down to 3.9 percent after a peak of 19.6 percent on December 4; overall case rates, plateauing at 91.2 cases per million; and positivity rate, 3.7 percent, which is a slight increase from last week but similar to October, state officials said.

Farmington area recent (within the last 30 days) COVID-19 infections dropped below 200 on February 20 and have continued a slow decline. Oakland County 7-day average infections have fallen below 100 after a small peak late last month. Learn more at

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