Michigan Governor Whitmer Announces “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order to Address Coronavirus Spread

23 March 2020 Coronavirus Resource Center Blog
Authors: Steven H. Hilfinger Robert Nederhood Kenneth A. Johnson

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced this morning that, effective Tuesday, March 24 at 12:01 a.m. and continuing through at least April 13, all residents of Michigan are subject to a stay-home, stay-safe at home Executive Order.  

All nonessential business operations not necessary to sustain or protect life or to maintain minimum basic operations have been ordered to cease.  

In addition, Michiganders are ordered to stay home as much as possible. Residents are permitted to visit: (1) grocery stores; (2) restaurants for take-out; (3) hospitals and medical centers; (4) pharmacies; (5) gas stations; and (6) banks, among other essential businesses.  

Two categories of businesses and workers are exempt from the Order:

1.  Critical Infrastructure Workers

Critical infrastructure workers and those necessary to sustain or protect life are exempt from the Order. This designation includes those workers described by the Director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in his March 19th guidance (available here), and certain workers in the following sectors: 

  • Health care and public health. 
  • Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders. 
  • Food and agriculture. 
  • Energy. 
  • Water and wastewater. 
  • Transportation and logistics. 
  • Public works. 
  • Communications and information technology, including news media. 
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions. 
  • Critical manufacturing. 
  • Hazardous materials. 
  • Financial services. 
  • Chemical supply chains and safety. 
  • Defense industrial base. 
  • Workers who perform necessary government activities, as defined in the Order. 
  • Child care workers. 
  • Workers at designated suppliers and distribution centers.  
  • Workers in the insurance industry, but only to the extent that their work cannot be done by telephone or remotely. 
  • Workers and volunteers for businesses or operations (including both and religious and secular nonprofit organizations) that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals.
  • Workers who perform critical labor union functions, including those who administer health and welfare funds and those who monitor the well-being and safety of union members who are critical infrastructure workers.

Note that even for businesses operating within the foregoing categories, not all employees are considered “critical infrastructure workers.”  Businesses must determine which of their workers are “critical infrastructure workers” and inform such workers of that designation.  That designation may be made orally through March 31, and must be made in writing thereafter, subject to certain exceptions set forth in the Order.

2.  Workers Necessary to Conduct Minimum Basic Operations  

In addition, workers necessary to maintain minimum basic operations at any business are permitted to continue work. This includes workers whose in-person presence is strictly necessary to allow the business or operation to maintain the value of inventory and equipment, care for animals, ensure security, process transactions (including payroll and employee benefits), or facilitate the ability of other workers to work remotely.

Requirements Applicable to all Businesses

Importantly, the Order requires all essential businesses to take proactive measures to ensure compliance with social distancing recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, and requires employers to determine which of their workers are necessary to conduct minimum basic operations. That designation may be made orally through March 31, and must be made in writing thereafter, subject to certain exceptions set forth in the Order.

In addition, we recommend that businesses check with their clients and customers to determine whether those customers employ “critical infrastructure workers.” Under the Order a business that employs critical infrastructure workers may designate suppliers, distribution centers or service providers whose continued operation is necessary to facilitate the work of its critical infrastructure workers.  Those businesses may similarly designate which entities they deem essential in writing. Such designations may be made orally until March 31, 2020 at 11:59 pm. 

For more information about recommended steps, please contact your Foley relationship partner. For additional web-based resources available to assist you in monitoring the spread of COVID-19 on a global basis, you may wish to visit the CDC and the World Health Organization

Foley has created a multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional team, which has prepared a wealth of topical client resources and is prepared to help our clients meet the legal and business challenges that the coronavirus outbreak is creating for stakeholders across a range of industries. Click here for Foley’s Coronavirus Resource Center to stay apprised of relevant developments, insights and resources to support your business during this challenging time. To receive this content directly in your inbox, click here and submit the form. 

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