The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced they were once again tightening restrictions on the size of gatherings.

After weeks of state officials warning that Michigan was moving backward in the fight against COVID-19, it was announced on Thursday, October 29, that effective immediately indoor venues without fixed seating must limit gatherings such as weddings, birthday parties, and banquets to no more than 50 people. The order also requires masks for indoor gatherings larger than 10 people and outdoor gatherings larger than 100 people and requires businesses to turn away anyone not wearing a mask.

Most of the order remains unchanged, however, new provisions target indoor gatherings where COVID-19 has spread most rapidly. Michigan presently has 172 cases per million people and positive tests have increased from about 2% to 5.5% both of which are indicators of cases increasing for over four weeks. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have doubled over the last three weeks while the state death rate has increased for five consecutive weeks.

The only way to beat COVID is to act on what we’ve learned since March. Wear masks. Keep six feet of distance. Wash hands. And avoid the indoor get-togethers where we have seen COVID explode. ~MDHHS Director Robert Gordon

The state said indoor gatherings are as much as 20 times more likely to cause COVID-19 outbreaks than compared to outdoor settings.

Before today's announcement from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), gatherings of up to 500 were allowed. The Traverse City area was specifically targeted in the latest shift in Michigan's reopening plan as cases there surge, according to MDHHS. They now join the rest of the state of Michigan in Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start System.

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