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Community updates: Tuesday, Oct. 13

MDHHS clarifies statewide COVID-19 rules replacing Gov. Whitmer’s orders; Grand Rapids Clerk’s Office extends hours for in-person voter registration, absentee ballot applications; and Grand Rapids’ first downtown skate, bike park opening on Friday.
Installing of the 555 Monroe skate, bike, and scoot park.

Installing of the 555 Monroe skate, bike, and scoot park. /Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

MDHHS clarifies statewide COVID-19 rules replacing Gov. Whitmer’s orders

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued an emergency order Friday giving more specific COVID-related rules across Michigan, replacing a similar order it issued Oct. 5.

The department’s latest order more closely matches Gov. Whitmer’s previous COVID-related executive orders, which were struck down on Oct. 2 by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Under the Friday order, capacity limits are now specified for non-venue indoor gatherings, all bars may be open with capacity restrictions, face covering use is required in childcare centers, and more. The new rules are on top of the MDHHS’ previously-established rules related to social gatherings and face covering use.

“Our goal is to maintain policies that have made a drastic difference in the fight against COVID-19,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Cases are rising, and the science is clear. Masks reduce the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing reduces the spread of COVID-19. Public action is critical to saving Michiganders’ lives.”

Except for the Traverse City region, retail stores, libraries, and museums are limited to 50% normal capacity. Restaurants are limited to 50% capacity across the state.

Previously, under Whitmer’s orders, bars earning more than 70% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales were shut down. They’re now allowed to operate, as long as parties are seated six feet apart and common areas for dancing or mingling remain closed. These same rules apply to restaurants.

Organized sports gatherings and exercise facilities are limited to 25% capacity, with exercise facilities prohibited if unable to maintain six-feet distance between workout stations. Non-tribal casinos are limited to 15% capacity.

Capacity limits from the MDHHS’ previous order that are still in place include 20% capacity for indoor seated venues, 30 people per 1,000 square feet for unseated outdoor venues, and more.

Face covering use is still required for indoor gatherings such as businesses, schools, and sporting events, with childcare centers joining the fold. Businesses aren't allowed to admit people not wearing face coverings, with a few exceptions.

The full list of the MDHHS’ COVID-related rules, and its exceptions, is available in its latest order. The order remains in effect through Oct. 30 and relies on authorities first enacted after the 1918 Spanish flu, which weren’t at issue in the Michigan Supreme Court’s Oct. 2 decision.


Grand Rapids Clerk’s Office extends hours for in-person voter registration, absentee ballot applications

With the Nov. 3 election drawing nearer, the Grand Rapids City Clerk’s Office has extended its Oct. hours to assist with in-person voter registration and absentee ballot applications.

Based in the second floor of City Hall, with satellite, election-based sites at other Grand Rapids locations, the Clerk’s Office will be open later on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and have select weekend hours. Its regular hours are 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday.

The Clerk’s Office extended hours:

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7pm, at City Hall (300 Monroe Ave. NW) and Election Central (201 Market Ave. SW).
  • Sunday, Oct. 11 from noon-5pm, at New Hope Baptist Church (130 Delaware St. SW).
  • Sunday, Oct. 25 from noon-5pm, at at City Hall.
  • Saturday, Oct. 31 from 7am-3pm, at City Hall and Election Central.

“Our office is energized, excited, and ready for election day,” City Clerk Joel Hondorp said. “We’re working diligently to make sure every vote is counted securely and safely.”

The last day to register to vote for the Nov. 3 election online, by mail, or at a Secretary of State branch is Oct. 19. From Oct. 20 through election day, residents need to register at the Clerk’s Office.

Absentee ballots may be obtained at the Clerk’s Office until 4pm on Nov. 2. Voters who request an absentee ballot in-person on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 must vote in the office, with the ballot being left with staff.


Grand Rapids’ first downtown skate, bike park opening on Friday

The first skate, bike, and scoot park in downtown Grand Rapids will have a soft opening this Friday.

The temporary, free-to-use park is located at 555 Monroe Ave. NW, which is a four-acre, city-owned riverfront property that’s served as a car park for decades.

Funding the park is Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI), which has utilized the 555 Monroe space in recent years as part of its efforts to revitalize the Grand River as a recreational place for locals and city visitors. DGRI has partnered with the City of Grand Rapids, AGA Nation, and other organizations for the park’s creation.

According the event’s Facebook page, activities for the 5-8pm soft opening include a formal ribbon cutting, music by local DJ Adrian Butler, skating and biking demonstrations by professionals, and open riding for the public.

More details about DGRI’s activation of the 555 Monroe space is available on its website.


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