July 30, 2020

Subject: Clarification Regarding Governor Whitmer’s Latest Executive Order:

We have received questions from a number of clergy expressing concern about what impact, if any, Governor Whitmer’s most recent Executive Order 2020-160, issued on Wednesday, July 29, may have on the celebration of public Masses at our churches.

It is important to note that the changes in capacity restrictions announced by Governor Whitmer do not impose a change on the six counties of the Archdiocese of Detroit; rather the Executive Order changes what was allowed in the northern portion of the Lower Peninsula and in the Upper Peninsula. For our portion of the state, indoor private gatherings remain capped at 10 persons.

Consistent with earlier orders, section 14 of this Executive Order states that “neither a place of religious worship nor its owner is subject to penalty under section 17 of this order for allowing religious worship at such place. No individual is subject to penalty under section 17 of this order for engaging in religious worship at a place of religious worship.”

Our current directives and guidelines, issued on June 22, remain in effect:

  • Churches are permitted to seat up to 50 percent capacity provided that face-coverings are still worn and physical distancing between households can be maintained. Their total capacity should be less than 50 percent if this number cannot be obtained while maintaining physical distancing.
  • Outdoor Masses are permitted without a capacity limit provided physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Outdoor parish events (non-Mass) are permitted up to 100 people provided that physical distancing is maintained.
  • With the permission of the pastor, non-liturgical gatherings may take place indoors if they observe strict health and safety guidelines, face-coverings are worn, and the gathering not exceed 10 persons.

Should conditions necessitate a change to our directives and guidelines, those changes will be shared with you via email, text message and posted on our website at aod.org/emergencyresponse.