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Whitmer bans public events of over 50 people, down from Friday's order of 250

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Monday evening that bans most public gatherings of more than 50 people beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday. 

On Friday, Whitmer banned gatherings of more than 250 people. But the governor's office said in a statement that the new order, which will be in effect until April 5, is meant to fit with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a press conference on Thursday, March 12, 2020, and announces the closure of schools in Michigan from March 16, 2020, through April 5, 2020.

This order provides exceptions for health care facilities, workplaces not open to the public, the Michigan Legislature, mass transit, the purchase of groceries or consumer goods and the performance of agricultural or construction work. The Michigan House and Senate are both scheduled to meet Tuesday.

"My No. 1 priority remains to protect the most people we can from the spread of coronavirus," Whitmer said in a statement. "We are all better off when all of us are healthy, and that’s especially true for the most vulnerable. These aggressive actions are aimed at saving lives."

The text of the order bans "all events of more than 50 people" and "all assemblages of more than 50 people in a single indoor shared space." A single indoor shared space includes a room, hall, cafeteria, auditorium, theater or gallery, the order says.

Violations of the new executive order can bring a misdemeanor charge.

The order came the same day Whitmer also acted to close a variety of public gathering places, including workout facilities, museums, libraries and movie theaters. She also shut down dine-in service at restaurants while allowing takeout and delivery to continue.

On Sunday, the CDC recommended the cancellation of public events featuring more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

"Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities," the CDC's website said.

cmauger@detroitnews.com