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Movies Are Back, Elementary Kids To Mask Up, Gatherings Increased

September 29, 2020

Movie theaters and performance venues can reopen, but elementary school students have to wear masks, as part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s new executive order issued Friday.

Order No. 185 allows indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, trampoline parks, and more to reopen beginning Oct. 9. 
 
The order also requires students in grades kindergarten and up in the southern part of Michigan – or regions 1 through 5 and 7 – to don a mask in the classroom, going beyond the previous recommendation that younger students wear masks. 
 
“With the 2020-2021 flu season approaching, we are in a precarious moment in our fight against COVID-19,” said Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun in a statement. “This new mask requirement is so important to protect students and educators, and to keep our schools open.” 
 
The Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in support of Whitmer’s move to require younger students to wear masks. 
 
The order also changes regulations on non-residential indoor gatherings, which can go from 10 people to 20 people per 1,000 square feet, or 20% of seating capacity with a maximum of 500 people in the state’s largest venues. 
 
For outdoor gatherings with people not from the same home, attendance must be limited to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people.  
 
The Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula are covered in the same rules except that 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. 
 
The governor’s press release included a quote from Phil Douma, executive director of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association, who said, “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.” 
 
Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association President & CEO Justin Winslow issued a statement backing the governor’s announcement to “increase capacity for meeting and banquet spaces and appreciate her willingness to listen to an industry that has been decimated since the onset of the pandemic.” 
 
The executive order comes as the state Friday reported another 929 confirmed COVID-19 cases, marking two straight days of more than 900+ reported cases.  
 
On Thursday, 982 cases were reported. On Friday, along with the 929 new cases, there were eight more deaths for statewide cumulative totals of 120,526 cases and 6,708 deaths. 
 
The number of cases in September so far is at 18,058, more than July’s 17,649 total. August tallied 20,869 cases.  
 
So far this month, 228 deaths tied to COVID-19 have been reported. In August that number was 277 and in July it was 267. 
 
Whitmer Friday also signed Executive Order 2020-184, which updates a previous order on workplace safeguards to reflect the changes from Friday.

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