Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail issued an emergency order Thursday restricting outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 15 people in some parts of East Lansing. The order will go into effect March 5 and will replace an October emergency order that restricted outdoor gatherings to 10 people.
The restricted area extends from the northern edge of Michigan State University's campus to Burcham Drive and is bounded by Harrison Road to the west and Hagadorn Road to the east, including properties adjacent to those streets.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ (MDHHS) Gatherings and Face Mask Order, outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people statewide. The MDHHS restricts indoor gatherings to 15 people from three households.
Within the restricted area, schools, childcare organizations, community centers, places of religious worship and farmers markets are exempt from the emergency order. However, they must comply with statewide safety orders. Because restaurants are classified differently than social orders, they are not included in the emergency order.
“COVID-19 cases are decreasing, but we are still seeing higher numbers in certain areas of East Lansing. With sports and Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations on the horizon, it is critical to keep social gatherings small,” said Vail in a press release Thursday. “We are making excellent progress in fighting COVID-19 but do not want to take steps backward.”
People ages 20-29 years old have made up 30% of all COVID-19 cases in Ingham County since the pandemic began, according to the press release. The 30-day heat map shows that the restricted area has had the highest concentration of new COVID-19 cases over the last month. It also has a high concentration of college students.
East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens said, “This order is an important tool in continuing to limit social gathering sizes in an area of our community where we have historically seen large parties, and it’s especially important to have these limits in place with the weather warming up and events like Saint Patrick’s Day just around the corner.”
People who violate the order could receive a misdemeanor, meaning imprisonment for up to six months and/or a $200 fine. They could also receive a municipal civil infraction ticket, punishable by a $500 fine under a City of East Lansing ordinance.
To report a violation, call the East Lansing Police Department’s non-emergency phone number: (517) 351-4220.