Gov. Whitmer reopens movie theaters, strengthens mask requirements in schools

LANSING —Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Orders 2020-183, which amends the MI Safe Start order to reopen movie theaters and performance venues and 2020-185, which requires face coverings for students in grades K-5.

“Michigan took some of the most aggressive action against COVID-19 in the country, and as a result, the health of our families and our economy are faring better than our neighbors in other states. As a result, we are now able to reopen movie theaters and performance venues with strict safety measures in place. I know these business owners have made incredible sacrifices during this crisis to protect our families and frontline workers, and my administration will continue working to help them get back on their feet,” Whitmer said. “We are not out of the woods yet, and we will continue to monitor the effects of these incremental changes. Right now, the federal government and all 50 states have been under some form of state of emergency. We must stay the course and continue fighting this virus on behalf of our families, frontline workers, and our small businesses.”

Beginning Oct. 9, a number of previously closed businesses are slated to reopen statewide, including indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, trampoline parks and more.

Under Executive Order 2020-183, instead of being limited to 10 people, non-residential indoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in Michigan’s largest venues. Non-residential indoor venues must require a face covering. Instead of being limited to 100 people, non-residential outdoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people. Regions 6 and 8 are subject to the same rules covered in the revised MI Safe Start order, except non-residential indoor venues may allow up to 25 people per 1,000 square feet or 25 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in the regions’ largest venues.

Executive Order 2020-185 requires all students in grades kindergarten and up in regions 1 to 5 and 7 to wear a face covering in classrooms. Prior orders had recommended, but not required, a face covering for grades kindergarten through five.

“With the 2020-2021 flu season approaching, we are in a precarious moment in our fight against COVID-19,” said Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “This new mask requirement is so important to protect students and educators and to keep our schools open. This year, it’s more important than ever that Michiganders across the state get their flu vaccine as soon as possible, mask up, and maintain at least six feet of physical distancing. Let’s all be smart and stay safe.”

“We applaud the governor’s strong leadership during this time and appreciate the guidance she has provided,” said JD Loeks, President of Studio C, Parent Company of Celebration Cinema. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our employees, patrons, and their families. We are eager to reopen our doors with strict safety measures in place and look forward to working closely with the governor and her team as we continue to fight this virus.”

“One of the many unfortunate side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that bereaved families across Michigan have not had the opportunity attend the rituals, services, and ceremonies that allow them to pay their respects and process their grief over the loss of a loved one,” said Phil Douma, Executive Director of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association.  “Increasing the number of people able to attend a funeral is the right thing to do, and grieving families across our state can now more properly mourn their losses and honor those they love.”

The governor today also signed Executive Order 2020-184, which updates the governor’s previous order on workplace safeguards to reflect the changes in the MI Safe Start Order.

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