As COVID Cases Rise, Whitmer Demands Effective Enforcement of Masks & Crowd Limits

With COVID-19 cases rising from a rolling seven-day average of 15 cases per million in mid-June to roughly 50 cases per million in late July, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is again doubling down on enforcement, signing a new Executive Directive today to strengthen enforcement measures across the board for violations of masking mandates and capacity limits in crowds.

Governor Whitmer today has signed Executive Directive 2020-08 directing state departments and autonomous agency heads to review allocation of their resources to ensure that enforcement of COVID-19-related laws is a priority, such as limitations on capacity and the requirement to wear a mask when entering a Michigan business. Whitmer’s administration says that coronavirus cases have risen over the past month from a June rolling low point since the peak last April, to about 50 cases per million in late July.

Whitmer warns that without effective enforcement, Michigan will move backwards, causing individuals, businesses, and the economy to suffer. Her new directive therefore requires state departments and agencies to ensure that enforcement of COVID-19-related laws receives the priority that fighting a pandemic demands. Under the directive, directors and agency heads should assign elevated priority to enforcement of COVID-19-related laws in categories of establishments where transmission is well-documented, including but not limited to nursing homes, meat processing plants, and agricultural housing.

Whitmer says, “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,” and cautions, “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.”

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Executive Directive 2020-08 requires departments to consider violations of law when determining eligibility for licensing. This 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. This includes, but is not limited to, suspension of a license or cessation of operation of a food establishment.

Whitmer says that ensuring her executive orders are enforced is necessary to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives. The Michigan State Police will enforce violations of the COVID-19 related laws, such as executive orders and DHHS epidemic orders, in the same manner as any other violation of law, applying their discretion as appropriate. Departments and agencies who become aware of a violation must share that information with relevant licensing authorities, and collaborate on enforcement to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.

To view Executive Directive 2020-08, click the link below: