Senate approves bill banning restrictions targeting large families

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved Sen. Michael D. MacDonald’s legislation to ban state or local officials from issuing emergency orders limiting the size of families at a table in a restaurant, at a child’s sporting event, or in their home.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials have restricted the number of family members who can visit a grandparent’s house, attend a sister’s softball game and eat together at a local restaurant,” said MacDonald, R-Macomb Township. “These arbitrary limits are unfair and hurtful to Michigan families. There is no scientific basis for not allowing a family to stand together outside to watch a sibling’s soccer game or for requiring a family of eight to split up into two tables of four instead of eating together.

“This measure is designed to ensure that public officials treat families of all sizes equally and use sound science when issuing emergency orders restricting our residents’ freedom to assemble.”

Senate Bill 257 would prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services director or a local health department officer from issuing an emergency order that bans any number of family members from watching other family members participate in a sporting event, restricts the number of households who can gather in a private residence, or limits the number of family members who can dine at the same table at a restaurant.

Under the bill, sporting events would include school sports, college sports and organized sporting activities. Family members would include spouses, parents, children, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

SB 257 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.