“Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives” Executive Order Explained

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Executive Order Implications

On March 23, Gov. Whitmer’s issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives” Executive Order. The Order has a sweeping impact on individuals and employers throughout Michigan.  The Chamber and other business organizations provided input to Gov. Whitmer on strategies to make the order as orderly as possible and continues to relay feedback from our members on opportunities to improve the Order while keeping Michiganders safe. The Chamber is working diligently to clarify key points for members, understanding the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly changing requiring updated policy prescriptions from leaders at every level of government.

On Twitter, Jeff Donofrio, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity shared:

“Many businesses have Q’s about the Gov’s Stay Safe, Stay Home Order.  We’re working to provide answers.  Best advice for now – make a judgement call.  If you’re critical to an operation sustaining/protecting life, keep working, if you’re not, stay home and help us save lives.”

Substance of Executive Order 2020-21

Executive Order 2020-21, commonly known as the “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives” Order requires individuals to stay home to prevent the spread of the Corona virus beginning at 12:01 am on March 24 and lasting at this time until at least April 13.  There are a few exceptions to the Order, two of which directly impact employers and will be discussed at greater length:

  1. To engage in outdoor activity while maintaining social distancing.
  2. To perform work as a designated critical infrastructure employee.
  3. To perform work as designated by an employer to conduct minimum basic operations.
  4. To perform essential government functions.
  5. To perform tasks necessary to provide for the health and safety of family and household members (including pets).
  6. To obtain necessary services and supplies for themselves, their family and members of their households including their vehicles, their home, groceries and medical supplies.
  7. To care for a family member or a family member’s pet in another household;
  8. To care for minors, the elderly or persons with disabilities.
  9. To visit an individual in a health care facility or residential care facility to extent permitted (this is not currently permitted).
  10. To attend legal proceedings or hearings as ordered by a court.
  11. To work or volunteer for businesses or nonprofits that provide food, shelter or other life sustaining goods to disadvantaged individuals or people with disabilities.

Should My Business Be Open?

Gov. Whitmer’s administration has indicated that businesses should remember that Section 1 of the order states that, “This order must be construed broadly to prohibit in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life.”  So, in many instances, the answer is no.  However, there are a number of exceptions, beginning with the fact that there are zero restrictions on working from home.  Tasks that are able to be completed from home may continue.

Under the order, employees engaged in critical infrastructure is permitted to work in person.  The definition of critical infrastructure is provided by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.  The entire guidance can be found here.  However, briefly it includes individuals engaged in the following sectors:

  1. Health care and public health;
  2. Law enforcement and public safety;
  3. Food and agriculture;
  4. Energy;
  5. Water and wastewater;
  6. Transportation logistics;
  7. Public works;
  8. Communications and information technology, including news media;
  9. Other community-based government operations and essential functions;
  10. Critical manufacturing
  11. Hazardous materials
  12. Financial services;
  13. Chemical supply chains and safety;
  14. Defense industrial base;
  15. Child care workers (to support critical infrastructure workers);
  16. Workers in the insurance industry, but only to the extent their work cannot be done remotely;
  17. Workers who perform critical labor union functions.

How Do I Become Designated as Critical Infrastructure?

There is not currently a mechanism to register with state government or “get permission” to continue to operate as critical infrastructure.  In many instances it is clear, in others there is significant grey area.  The best advice continues to be from Donofrio:

“If you’re critical to an operation sustaining and/or protecting life, keep working, if you’re not, stay home and help us save lives.”

Additionally, companies providing critical infrastructure are able to designate companies within their supply chain that are critical to their ability to provide critical infrastructure and notify them in writing (or electronically) thereby allowing them to operate in a manner that allows them to keep the supply chain open and then designate their suppliers and so on.

EXAMPLE: Company A is manufacturing ventilators; they may designate Company B as critical because Company B provides part for those ventilators.  Company B may continue to operate to provide those parts, and designate Company C which provides the raw materials for the parts.

What are Minimum Basic Operations?

Companies may designate employees in writing (or electronically) who are required to maintain minimum basic operations.  These employees are allowed to work on-site.  Examples of workers who would meet this definition include workers who maintain the value of inventory, feed animals, provide security, process transactions and facilitate the ability of others to work from home.  While not required, a recommended best practice is to have designated employees keep a record of their designation with them while at work.

What Does Enforcement Look Like?

Gov. Whitmer’s administration has been clear that compliance with this order is essential to public health and flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan.  They have also been clear that they do not intend to be heavy handed in their enforcement.  According to the First Lt. Michael Shaw of Michigan State Police, “This isn’t martial law. It’s not a lock-down.”  Individuals and businesses found to be violation of the order, particularly those who are not flagrantly and willfully violating the Order can expect law enforcement to inform them of the Order and ask them to disperse.

What Should I Do If I Still Have Questions?

The Chamber team is diligently working to help members navigate this difficult time.  The Governor’s office is updating a series of frequently asked questions here.

Chamber Resources

The Detroit Regional Chamber has numerous resource available to business at detroitchamber.com/covid19. Additional relevant information can be found below:

Further, you can contact Brad Williams, Vice President, Government Relations at bwilliams@detroitchamber.com if the Chamber can help guide you further.

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