LANSING — Earlier this week, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon signed an emergency order allowing for civil fines of up to $1,000 for violations of various COVID-19 executive orders for businesses that operate under licenses.
The new order reinforces Governor Whitmer’s various COVID-19 executive orders as they relate to licensed business, such as food-selling establishments and pharmacies, and establishes that any violations must be referred to the appropriate licensing agency.
This order also gives authority to local health departments and law enforcement agencies to coordinate investigations into violations of the order in their jurisdictions and to carry out enforcement as appropriate.
The emergency order requires that everyone must comply with the procedures and restrictions outlined in the following executive orders:
- Executive Order 2020-69, which places temporary restrictions on the use of places of public accommodation.
- Executive Order 2020-71, which establishes temporary safety measures for food-selling establishments and pharmacies and temporary relief from requirements applicable to the renewal of licenses for the food-service industry.
- Executive Order 2020-91, which places safeguards to protect Michigan’s workers from COVID-19.
- Executive Order 2020-92, which establishes temporary requirements to suspend certain activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.
“More than 51,000 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in our state and appropriate social distancing is the primary tool available to slow the spread of the virus and save lives,” Gordon said in a statement. “The real heroes of this crisis are the medical workers, first responders and other essential workers who are putting their lives on the line for us every day.
“We owe it to them to do what we can ourselves to stop the spread of the virus. The executive orders issued by the governor are intended to protect the health and safety of all Michiganders. A civil penalty and potential licensing actions send a strong message to Michiganders that we are serious about enforcing these orders.”
Any violations of this emergency order by a person regulated by a licensing agency must be referred to the relevant licensing agency for a determination on whether to pursue additional enforcement action on a case-by-case basis.
Law enforcement officers, under Michigan law, are deemed to be “department representatives” for purposes of enforcing MDHHS’ order and are specifically authorized to investigate potential violations of the order. They may coordinate as necessary with the local health department and enforce this order within their jurisdiction.
Criminal penalties for violation of the governor’s executive orders will remain an option for prosecutors.