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Masks are no longer required for small outdoor weddings, proms or other similar events, or while playing some youth sports, according to a new order from the health department, which went into effect on Thursday.

This move is the latest measure from the Ministry of Health and Humanitarian Services and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, as COVID-19 trends in the country remain bad but continue to move in a safer direction.

“Michiganders’ commitment to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine allows us to return to normal,” said department director Elizabeth Hertel.

“Vaccines work. This means that once Michiganders are fully vaccinated, they do not have to follow as many health guidelines because of the protection that the vaccine provides against the spread of the virus. ”

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Under the new order, no one should wear a mask outdoors unless they are gathering with 100 or more people. This also applies to youth sports – while masks are still required for contact sports, they are not required during training or games for non-contact outdoor sports.

“For example, softball and baseball players will be required to wear a mask in the dugout, but not when they are on a bat or playing first base,” the health department said in a news release.

Testing is still required for young athletes unless these students are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. Anyone who is fully vaccinated, who does not feel sick, should not wear a mask at a gathering, indoors or outdoors.

“Getting the vaccine is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community,” said Dr. Johnny Haldun, the state’s chief medical officer.

“Vaccines give you the freedom and peace of mind to do more, but we still have work to do to achieve our goal of vaccinating at least 70% of people aged 16 and over.”

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Despite the incidence, hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks, Michigan is still the worst in the country on all three indicators. Earlier, Whitmer called on residents to stop eating indoors in restaurants, along with a two-week break in youth athletics and private school classes in an attempt to stop the current jump in COVID-19.

But Hertel and Whitmer opposed stricter regulations, despite calls from national health leaders to do so.

The new order is part of a broader government effort that links vaccination levels to easing pandemic regulations.

Last week, Whitmer announced a plan to bind off the restrictions after a number of Michiganders received their first dose of the vaccine. As of Tuesday, the state was short of about 374,000 shots to reach the first figure, with 55% of those aged 16 and over receiving their first dose.

According to the state, just over 39% of all Michiganders aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.

Contact Dave Boucher: dboucher@freepress.com or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @ Dave_Boucher1.

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