Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed executive directive 2020-08 this week directing state departments and agencies to ensure that businesses are prioritizing the enforcement of COVID-19-related laws.
“Ensuring these executive orders are enforced across the state will protect Michigan families, small businesses, and the first responders on the front lines of this crisis,” said Whitmer on Tuesday. “This fight is not over yet. During the month of July, we saw an increase in positive COVID-19 cases in every region of the state. By allocating the appropriate and needed resources, we can continue to save lives and ensure we don’t have to move backward.”
Without effective enforcement, Whitmer said, Michigan will move “backwards, causing individuals, businesses, and the economy to suffer.” The measure requires state departments and agencies to ensure that enforcement of COVID-19-related laws receive appropriate priority.
Coronavirus spread at businesses has been a concern for several months. A June outbreak of COVID-19 swept the premises of Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub located in East Lansing near Michigan State University. It directly sickened 144 patrons and 43 people secondhand and raised questions about its sanitary practices.
The Whitmer directive requires departments to consider violations of law when determining eligibility for licensing. It includes any violation of relevant COVID-19 executive orders or epidemic orders. If a state department or agency becomes aware of non-compliance under the law they must consider it to be presumptive evidence of a “public health hazard” or “imminent and substantial hazard to the public health” and take appropriate steps to mitigate any risk to public health and safety. It includes, but is not limited to, suspension of a license or cessation of operation of a food establishment.
The Michigan State Police will enforce violations of these COVID-19-related laws, such as executive orders and DHHS pandemic orders, in the same manner as any other violation of law, applying their discretion as appropriate. Departments and agencies that become aware of a violation must share that information with relevant licensing authorities, and collaborate on enforcement to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.