Gov. Gretchen Whitmer April 14

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the public on April 14 as Michigan faces the highest COVID-19 rates in the nation.

(The Center Square) – The state health department revised its mask mandate beginning Thursday, May 6, through Monday, May 31, so that masks aren’t generally required outdoors for those who are fully vaccinated unless there’s a gathering of 100 or more people.

New Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) guidance says anyone who is fully vaccinated and not experiencing symptoms isn’t required to wear a mask at indoor residential gatherings.

New guidance for organized sports no longer requires routine COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated participants if they are asymptomatic. Masks are still required for contact sports but aren’t required outdoors during active practice and competition for non-contact sports. For example, softball and baseball players will be required to wear a mask in the dugout but not when batting or playing first base.

“The commitment by Michiganders to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is allowing us to move toward a return to normal,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. “The vaccines work. That means once Michiganders are fully vaccinated, they do not have to abide by as many health guidelines because of the protection the vaccine provides from the spread of the virus. Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer launched the MI Vacc to Normal plan to set vaccine milestones to enable a return toward normalcy. This week we are taking further steps in that direction.”

MDHHS urges Michiganders to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which requires people who aren’t yet fully vaccinated to wear a mask around other people from different households. 

“Getting your vaccine is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community,” Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a statement. “Vaccines give you the freedom and peace of mind to be able to do more things, but we still have work to do to reach our goal of vaccinating at least 70% of residents ages 16 and up. Get one of the three safe and effective vaccines as soon as you are able, and please remember you need to get your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to get the full immunity that these vaccines offer.”

So far 39.3% of Michigan residents 16 and older had been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and 50.6% had received at least a first dose.

The new order’s rules include:

  • Large outdoor events, including festivals, fairs, and golf tournaments will be able to exceed the current 1,000-person limit if they create and post a safety plan consistent with the MDHHS Large Outdoor Event Guidance, and no more than 20 persons per 1,000 square feet are gathered in any space available.

Outdoor stadiums and arenas:

  • Stadiums complying with enhanced protocols can operate at 20% of their fixed seating capacity. For example, a stadium with a maximum capacity complying with enhanced protocols would be permitted to host 8,000 patrons.
  • Otherwise, for stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,000 patrons may be gathered (previously 750).
  • For stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 10,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,500 patrons may be gathered.
  • Residential outdoor gatherings are allowed up to 50 people. Or, where density does not exceed 20 persons per 1,000 square feet of usable outdoor space, up to 300 people may be gathered.

The state must reach 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older with a first vaccine injection to drop all COVID-19 restrictions.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.