In the wake of a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a new Executive Order requiring businesses to refuse entry to individuals not wearing a face covering, with limited exceptions. It also requires masks be worn in crowded outdoor spaces.

Executive Order 2020-147 takes effect on July 13. Willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor carrying a $500 fine. No jail time can be imposed.

“Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent,” Whitmer said.

The order reiterates masks must be worn in any indoor public places. It adds businesses open to the public are required to post signs at all entrances regarding the legal obligation to wear a mask and must refuse entry and service to those who refuse to wear a face covering.

Masks are also now required outdoors when individuals not from the same household cannot maintain six-foot distance between them. The order requires face coverings when waiting for or riding on public transportation, in a taxi or ridesharing vehicle, and inside a private car as hired transportation.

Some exceptions include: children younger than five; those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering; and people eating or drinking while seated inside a food service establishment. Those engaging in religious worship are not subject to this order, however, according to a press release from the Governor’s office, CDC guidelines strongly encourage wearing face coverings during religious services.

The pandemic continues to be the impetus behind much of the state's legislation so far this year. Republican lawmakers announced a $1 billion plan which would put local school districts inCapital Building Lansing Cropped charge of their own coronavirus safety protocols, academic calendars, learning plans and extracurricular activities. The “Return to Learn Plan” sends federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to local school districts so officials can craft their own plans amid COVID-19 concerns. The Legislature passed an $880 million supplemental bill, which was sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, allowing the state to hire 500 additional Unemployment Insurance Agency employees and provide childcare and rental assistance, PPE and COVID-19 testing and more. The Legislature also passed a ‘Cocktails to go’ bill for Michigan bars, which was sent to Gov. Whitmer, who is expected to sign the bill. Whitmer extended the State of Emergency, lifted the Stay at Home Order and issued a ‘Play Ball’ Executive Order for professional sports without fans in the stands. Senate Bill 956 would separate COVID-19 nursing home patients, sending them to a dedicated facility in one of Michigan’s eight health care regions. Regular COVID-19 testing of Michigan nursing home residents has been mandated by the state. A ballot committee called Unlock Michigan is seeking to repeal a 1945 law giving the Governor emergency powers. 

For more details about these and other legislative issues, please click here for the June 2020 Karoub Report.

MAPE Legal Counsel Bryan Davis shared an update with members regarding Governor Gretchen Whitmer's latest Executive Order (EO) on workplace exposure to COVID-19:

To All,

Governor Whitmer has issued Executive Order 2020-128: Clarifying WDCA Eligibility for Workplace Exposure to COVID-19 (Rescission of Executive Order 2020-125). Please note that this EO has suspended the Emergency Rules which had been issued by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Notably, "[f]or purposes of the WDCA, and subject to rebuttal by specific facts to the contrary, a COVID-19 response employee who is confirmed as COVID-19 positive on or after March 18, 2020, either by physician or by test, shall be presumed to have suffered a “personal injury,” as that term is defined by section 401(2)(b) of the WDCA, MCL 418.401(2)(b)."

Please note that "COVID-19 response employee" is defined in the EO.

Please click here for a link to the EO 2020-128 for more details.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Michigan schools may resume in-person education as part of Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan, with health and safety measures in place.

Whitmer said she is “optimistic” schools will return to in-person learning in the fall. Whitmer plans to release an Executive Order and Michigan’s Return to School Roadmap June 30 based on recommendations from the Return to Learn Advisory Council and health care leaders. She said she will use the MI Safe Start Plan and Michigan’s eight MERC regions to decide where in-person instruction can resume and how that instruction will be implemented.

The governor stressed the need for federal financial assistance for schools, as they will have increased costs due to new protocols.

She also extended the State of Emergency, which was set to expire June 19, until July 16. The State of Emergency gives Whitmer the authority to issue COVID-19 related Executive Orders. She said all states are currently operating under some form of State of Emergency.

Whitmer said she still hopes to move the rest of the state to Phase 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan by July 4. She urged residents and businesses to continue to do their part to reduce the spread of coronavirus by wearing masks and keeping a 6-foot social distance between individuals not residing in the same household.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Orders moving two regions in Northern Michigan into Phase 5 of her MI Safe Start Plan and opening personal services throughout the state.

Regions 6 and 8, the Upper Pennisula and Traverse City region, will transition to Phase 5 on June 10, opening hair, massage and nail salons, movie theaters and gyms. COVID-19 safety protocols and procedures are established in the Executive Orders to protect employees and customers. Facial coverings must be worn by customers and employees, who are required to maintain a social distance of six-feet between them.

On June 15, personal services, including hair, massage and nail salons, will reopen statewide, with Regions 1-5 and 7 remaining in Phase 4.

Phase 5 also expands indoor and outdoor social gathering limits with restrictions. Indoor social gatherings and organized events of up to 50 people are permitted provided individuals maintain social distance of six feet. Outdoor social gatherings and organized events of no greater than 250 people are allowed with the six-feet social distancing. However, outdoor performance and sporting venues are given an additional capacity of up to 500 persons, maintaining social distance.

Specific indoor public entertainment venues in the northern regions, including: arcades, bowling alleys, cinemas, climbing facilities, convention centers, performance spaces, meeting halls, night clubs, sports arenas, theaters, or similar venues may open up to 25% of their maximum capacity or 250 people, whichever is smaller, with social distancing maintained.

Click here for the complete details in Executive Orders 2020-114 and 2020-115.

Whitmer updated workplace safeguards for gyms, in-home services, hair salons, and entertainment venues and appointed Sean Egan, Deputy Director for Labor at the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, to serve as Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety. Executive Directive 2020-6 details the appointment. Executive Order 2020-91 requires businesses follow strict safety guidelines to protect workers and patrons from COVID-19 infection.