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Michigan State Police: Most Thanksgiving gathering violations won’t result in tickets

Police are planning an educational approach to seek voluntary compliance if they are called to investigate
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 2:46 PM EST
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - It’s bound to happen.

Families and friends will get together for Thanksgiving and there will most likely be calls to 911 or local law enforcement about people not following Michigan’s gathering limits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Police are expecting an influx of calls on Thanksgiving, but they aren’t planning to write a lot of tickets.

“It’s difficult right now because people want to see family members. It’s been a very hard time going through COVID,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Liz Rich.

Everyone expects people will be getting together for Thanksgiving, which will be the first big holiday of the pandemic that is celebrated mostly indoors. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic orders limit private gatherings at residences to 10 people or two households. Fines and jail time are possible.

“They open themselves up to civil as well as criminal charges,” Rich said of gatherings that violate the order.

But she said Michigan State Police troopers will arrive with an explanation of the health order and will not be looking to make arrests if they are called to a home that may not be in compliance.

“We are going to take the opportunity to educate them and look for voluntary compliance,” Rich said.

Many law enforcement agencies plan on handling Thanksgiving gathering complaints the same way.

Midland Police Chief Nicole Ford said her department also will respond to calls with a goal of informing and educating residents. Officers will not demand licenses of people inside residences trying to figure out where they live, because that potentially would expose police to coronavirus.

Rich is hoping people do their best to comply.

“We don’t want to mess with people getting together because we need this,” she said. “But you have to be very smart who you are doing with and not in violation of those orders.”

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