Gathering limits lifted for township meetings under epidemic order amendment
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) amended its Gathering and Face Mask Order, removing the 25-person capacity limit for in-person indoor public meetings held in compliance with the Open Meetings Act. Under the amended order, which is in effect through April 19, 2021, townships can resume indoor in-person public meetings subject to certain limitations. The indoor and outdoor gathering limits on the number of persons do not apply to public meetings held in compliance with the OMA. Organizers and facilities must still design the meeting to encourage and maintain physical distancing, and must ensure that persons not part of the same group maintain six feet of distance from one another to the extent possible. Seating should be arranged accordingly. At these indoor meetings, masks must also be worn unless a personal exception applies as set forth in in the MDHHS Order.
Although the March 31 and April 19 MDHHS Orders do not state a specific room capacity limit for a meeting room for a meeting of a public body (resulting in an interpretation that the capacity limit is the fire marshal occupancy limit, then reduced by 6-foot physical distancing), the MDHHS has made the following statement in one of its March 19 FAQs that the room capacity for a meeting of a public body is 50% of the fire marshal occupancy limit, then reduced by 6-foot physical distancing. A township board may want to consider taking a prudent approach, in consultation with its attorney, in deciding whether to comply with the MDHHS FAQs more restrictive capacity calculation.
Through the end of the year, virtual attendance of members of a public body at public meetings is only allowed for three reasons: military duty, a medical condition, or a statewide or local state of emergency (SOE) or state of disaster. The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) has surveyed its members and compiled both a map and listing of counties that have declared states of emergency. Visit MAC's Resources for COVID-19 Response webpage to view or download the resources (under the second heading, "State of Emergency Status"). This is not a conclusive list and some counties not on the list may have declared a state of emergency. If your township wishes to hold a meeting virtually and has not adopted its own SOE, please confirm with your county that a local state of emergency has been declared.
- UPDATED on April 19! MTA RESOURCE: Declaring a Local State of Emergency Under the Open Meetings Act, March 31-December 31, 2021
- UPDATED on April 19! MTA FACT SHEET: Township Meetings and Facilities Under the Open Meetings Act and MDHHS Emergency Order March 22, 2021-- “Gatherings and Face Mask Order"
- NEW! MTA Public Meetings infographic
Additional MDHHS order infographics are available:
- Capacity Limits Fact Sheet
- Enhanced Outdoor Stadium and Arena Guidance
- Dining Guide
- Epidemic Order FAQs