A Quick Un-Pack of Executive Order 2020—160

The Midland Business Alliance continues to help our members stay on top of Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders related to COVID-19. We believe a little extra attention is in order for Executive Order 2020—160, issued last Wednesday, July 29th.

In a nutshell, the Executive Order sets the maximum number of people for indoor gatherings, for the entire state, at 10.

You may recall that Regions 6 (northern lower peninsula) and 8 (upper peninsula) of the state, as shown on page 3 of the Governor’s MI Safe Start Plan, were moved to Phase 5 on June 10th. Phase 5 allows for indoor gatherings of up to 50 people, and gives the green light for movie theaters, gyms, and salons to open. Under Phase 5, most outdoor gatherings are capped at 250.

While the Governor moved Regions 6 and 8 to Phase 5, the rest of the state was kept in Phase 4, which has much lower caps for gatherings. However, the widespread expectation—and this is where the current confusion has stemmed from—was that the rest of the state would all advance to Phase 5 by July 4th. That did not happen, and still has not happened.

Midland is located in Region 4. We have been, and still are, capped at 10 people for indoor gatherings, and 100 for outdoor gatherings (Regions 6 and 8 retained their 250 cap for outdoors). It is important to note that the cap applies to “organized gatherings,” and not “chance gatherings,” which is what happens when, for example, you go to the grocery store and clearly see many more than 10 people indoors. Additionally, restaurants have their own, separate limitations.

Another important excerpt from this Executive Order needs your attention, as well. On page 3 of the Executive Order, item number one states “ …Any work that is capable of being performed remotely (i.e., without the worker leaving his or her home or place of residence) must be performed remotely.” This is an important deviation from a previous Executive Order, which stated that work should be performed remotely. Based on our conversations with other business organizations, we have interpreted this change in wording as a very important distinction.

On a related note, earlier this week, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Directive 2020—08, which is designed to increase enforcement of the Executive Orders she has issued relative to COVID-19. The Directive was drafted in such a way that will even allow officials to consider potential violations as they determine eligibility for licensing.

We will continue keeping you informed of all public policy decisions stemming from the COVID-19 crisis. And, you can visit our website at anytime to access the many resources we have available to businesses as they re-open.