Thursday a new Emergency Order was issued with tighter regulations for indoor areas. Robert Gordon Director and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun on behalf of the Michigan Department of Health services released the new guidance. The previous order would have expired Friday. They are lowering the number of people that can gather at indoor venues unless there is fixed seating. Health officials have determined that the bigger indoor gatherings are the reason for the current spike in cases. The number that can be indoors has been lowered from 500 to 50, without fixed seating. They are targeting banquets, parties and weddings, which they say are high risk events. State officials say Indoor events are 20 times more likely to have outbreaks than outdoor events.

The state of Michigan is currently reporting 34 outbreaks from social events, and they say an additional 19 outbreaks are linked to Church services, which are not required to follow the order.

Gordon said the new order also establishes a schedule of fines and enforcement mechanisms. Penalties are available for residents who don’t follow the new emergency order, he said. Violations are punishable by a civil fine up to $1,000 and can also be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison or a fine of up to $200, or both. Officials said failure to follow the order could violate a business or professional licensure requirements or present a workplace safety violation.

The experts are recommending residents stay outside when possible for gathering, and wear masks especially when around people from other households. “The surge we’re now seeing is exactly why we were so worried about the fall season”, Khaldun said. Social distancing and mask wearing should be followed at all times, as well as washing your hands. If we heed the experts guidance and follow the guidance of the order today, they feel we can get the cases down. We were all warned about a second wave in the fall, now it’s coming to fruition not only in Michigan, but all across the United States.

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