COVID-19 Steps Up, Michigan Steps Back: New Executive Order Reestablishes Previous Stay-at-Home Restrictions

As Michigan’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-160 rescinding previous orders that had relaxed Michigan’s stay-at-home requirements. The new order closes or restricts operations of several indoor establishments, restricts social gatherings and events, and reiterates individual and workplace operation guidelines. In addition, the governor issued Executive Order 2020-161, which revises workplace safeguards.

Orders Rescinded by EO 2020-160

EO 2020-160 rescinds the following Orders:

  • EO 2020-110 regarding previous restrictions for certain events, gatherings, and businesses;
  • EO 2020-115 regarding temporary restrictions for certain events, gatherings, and businesses;
  • EO 2020-133 regarding restarting professional sports; and
  • EO 2020-143 regarding closing indoor services at bars.

Individual Responsibilities

EO 2020-160 restates the requirement for individuals to maintain social distance guidelines, such as keeping a distance of six feet from those outside one’s household, as well as reinforces Executive Order 2020-153’s requirement to wear face coverings in public indoor spaces.

Workplace Guidelines

Employees who are capable of performing work remotely must rather than should do so, which strengthens the language used in the previous workplace guidelines established in EO 2020-115. In addition, any business or operation that requires employees to return to work in person must follow the guidelines outlined in the newly issued EO 2020-161.

EO 2020-161, like the previous four workplace guideline orders, requires extensive safeguards across various industry-specific workplaces. Like the previous orders, employers are required to, among other items: (1) develop a COVID-19 preparedness plan consistent with guidance developed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration; (2) provide COVID-19 safety training and designate a worksite supervisor to ensure compliance with the preparedness plan; (3) conduct daily self-screening protocols; and (4) provide face coverings and cleaning supplies to employees. The EO also requires workplace posters to encourage employees to stay home when sick and to notify the local public health department when an employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19. However, EO 2020-161 issues new protocols for casinos and racetracks, and requires restaurants and bars to enhance measures to encourage social distancing.

Closing of Establishments Open to the Public, Including Closing of Indoor Service Bars

EO 2020-160 requires the closure or the continued closure of the following establishments open to the public: (1) indoor theaters, cinemas, and venues; (2) indoor gymnasiums or other recreational centers; (3) any recreational, amusement, or other entertainment service that is indoor or outdoor, but with close personal contact; (4) licensed Millionaire Parties; (5) licensed casinos, however licensed casinos may operate after August 5 under guidelines pursuant to EO 2020-161; and (6) the indoor facilities of establishments licensed to sell alcohol that earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages (based on 2019 sales or if not open at the time, sales from 2020), but allow patrons to walk through to access the outdoor area, exit, and/or use the restroom.

Indoor and Outdoor Social Gatherings and Events

Gathering requirements have not changed since the previous guidelines in EO 2020-110. Indoor events must be limited to no more than 10 people and outdoor events limited to no more than 100 people, while still ensuring that members not part of the same household are maintaining six feet of distance.

Professional sporting events and leagues are able to resume without an audience, following the guidance from the CDC and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and maintaining six-feet social distancing to the extent possible. 

Parks may remain open unless otherwise prohibited by local ordinance, and areas that cannot maintain social distancing must remain closed. Pools may open under the following restrictions: (1) outdoor pools are limited to 50% capacity; (2) indoor pools in Regions 6 and 8 (see below) are limited to 25% capacity; (3) indoor pools outside Regions 6 and 8 are limited to infant and child drowning prevention classes at 25% capacity; and (4) six-feet social distancing must be maintained on the pool deck.

Regions 6 & 8

The above restrictions are less strict for Regions 6 (Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Iron, Baraga, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, Delta, Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, and Chippewa counties) and Regions 8 (Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Iron, Baraga, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, Delta, Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, and Chippewa counties). Specifically, indoor establishments open to the public, such as arcades, bowling alleys, cinemas, climbing facilities, convention centers, performance spaces, meeting halls, sports arenas, theaters, or similar indoor venues may be open to spectators or patrons if spectators and patrons maintain six-feet social distance and are limited to 25% capacity or fewer than 250 people, whichever is less. Outdoor events, such as those held at an outdoor concert space, racetrack, sports arena, stadium, or similar outdoor venue, may open to the public as long as patrons maintain six-feet social distancing and 25% of its maximum capacity or to 500, whichever is smaller.

Effective Date

EO 2020-161 took effect immediately on July 29, 2020. EO 2020-160 took effect July 31, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Penalty for Willful Violation of Orders

A willful violation of either EO 2020-160 or EO2020-161 is a misdemeanor consistent with MCL 10.33 and MCL 30.405(3).

Additionally, the Department of Health and Safety Services issued an Emergency Order under MCL 333.2253 reinforcing Executive Orders 2020-160 and 2020-161 and allowing for civil fines of up to $1,000 for violations and referral to licensing agencies to determine whether an enforcement action should be pursued.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.