Michigan Ends Most COVID-19 Restrictions Today: What It Means for YouJune 22, 2021
June 22, 2021
No more mask mandates, worrying if you’re six feet away from another table at a restaurant or waiting for someone to leave a store before entering to ensure the business is not over capacity.
At 12:01 Tuesday morning, Michigan joined the majority of states in the nation and rolled back almost all of its remaining pandemic restrictions.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and health officials said last week they would rescind these orders ahead of the previously announced July 1 date because of improving COVID-19 trends and the abundant availability of vaccines.
“This is great news and a day all of us have been looking forward to for more than a year,” Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said in a news release.
“We have said all along that the vaccine would help us return to a sense of normalcy and today we announce that day is here.”
While the pandemic restrictions generally correlate with fewer cases, hospitalizations and deaths, they also faced substantial pushback from some who argued they were overbearing.
Here’s more on what these rule changes mean for you:
What Michigan COVID-19 restrictions are nixed?
The biggest changes involve doing away with masking and gathering requirements. Although the state eased these same rules on June 1, those who are not yet vaccinated were still required to wear masks in most indoor settings. Restaurants, small businesses, and many other stores needed to limit capacity as well.
Now, those rules are no more.
What about sports?
All the previous testing and COVID-19 protocols are out the window.
For months, only those 16 and up were eligible for a vaccine, Despite the elderly and immunocompromised being the most susceptible to the coronavirus, the fact that children could and did catch COVID-19 but were not eligible for a vaccine spurred the state to create robust testing requirements.
That testing is no longer required. Health experts still advise anyone unvaccinated wear masks in close, indoor settings or while playing contact sports, but that is not required by the state.
Capacity limits at places such as Comerica Park and other massive sporting venues were already removed earlier this month.
What Michigan COVID-19 rules do remain?
Some basic health department orders outlining COVID-19 protocols for populations at greater risk from the disease are still in effect. That includes testing protocols for prisons, nursing homes, and similar long-term care facilities and for farm workers.
The state promised to release additional guidance this week “for keeping children and staff safe in school.”
The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity still has rules in place for offices, separate from regulations issued by the health department. On Monday, a department spokesman said the department would issue new orders Tuesday that would replace those rules. He did not provide additional details.
Can Michigan businesses still make me wear a mask?
Yes, they can. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks, it can be difficult for a business to verify whether someone is vaccinated.
Many businesses have passive policies, requiring masks for those who are not vaccinated but not checking someone’s status. However, the state’s decision to remove its own mandates does not prevent a business from implementing more stringent health and safety rules.
What happens if there’s another COVID-19 surge in Michigan?
The pandemic is not over. COVID-19 trends are much better than the rates that drove Michigan to become the nation’s worst pandemic hot spot this spring. But case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths were all higher last week than at the same point last year.
That being said, another surge is not anticipated. Experts note vaccines are proving effective against COVID-19 variants and are widely available. An uptick in cases might accompany Tuesday’s wide-scale removal of rules, but it would likely take a truly substantial spike for the state to reinstate rigorous pandemic restrictions.