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Contact-tracing rules for restaurants, bars go into effect Monday

The rules also state that no more than six people can be seated at a table.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Last week Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration tightened restrictions on indoor gatherings and dining. Indoor venues without fixed seating must limit gatherings such as weddings, parties and banquets to no more than 50 people — down from a maximum of 500.

Starting Monday, all dine-in restaurants and bars must get customers' names and phone numbers for contract-tracing purposes -- and no more than six people can sit at a table.

The state said indoor settings are as much as 20 times more likely to drive COVID-19 outbreaks than outdoor settings. It also recommended that people keep their voices down at social events, warning that shouting or cheering can increase the virus in the air by up to 30 times.

RELATED: Bars and restaurants respond to contact tracing order

Stronger Recommendations for Indoor Social Gatherings Permitted Under the Epidemic Order

Alongside the rerelease of last week's order, MDHHS also published strong recommendations for indoor social gatherings, including at Thanksgiving. Because no one measure confers complete protection in a gathering, the guidance recommends that individuals take multiple steps together:

  • Get together outside whenever possible. You have up to 20 times higher risk of getting sick inside. 
  • If you do get together inside, include no more than two households and 10 people.
  • Limit time inside together—greater duration is greater risk.
  • Wear a mask – take it off when you eat or drink, then put it back on.
  • Keep six feet apart as much as you can.
  • When possible, keep voices down; high volume can increase COVID transmission by 30 times
  • Wash hands regularly and try to not to share utensils.

New Measures to Enhance Enforcement

While continuing to focus on encouraging voluntary compliance with its Emergency Orders, MDHHS also issued rules that set forth fines for violations of these epidemic orders. Violations are punishable by a civil fine up to $1,000 and may also be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $200, or both. In addition, failure to comply with orders may violate a business or professional’s licensure requirements or present a workplace safety violation.  Residents seeking to report violations should consult the COVID complaints page to find the appropriate department. For general failures to wear a mask or physical distance, residents may call their local law enforcement’s non-emergency line.

On Saturday, Oct. 31, Michigan reported a single-day record of new confirmed cases: 3,792. The 7-day rolling average is higher than it was in April. 

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