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July 31 2020

New Executive Orders Partially Roll Back Reopening and Reopen Casinos

Wednesday evening, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Orders 160 and 161 for the purposes of amending and updating the executive orders previously in effect governing Michigan’s reopening and mandated worker safeguards.

While the restrictions and conditions of the prior executive orders (110, 115, 120, 133, 143, and 145) remain significantly intact, the new executive orders include a couple of notable changes.

Executive Order 2020-160 – Amended Safe Start Order

Effective July 31, Executive Order 2020-160 rescinds, updates, and replaces multiple prior executive orders.  Among other changes, Executive Order 2020-160 rolls back some of the less burdensome restrictions previously in effect in the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City Region.  Now, throughout the entire State, a social gathering or organized event among persons who are not part of the same household may not exceed 10 people if held indoors, and social distancing of at least six feet must be maintained among people not part of the same household. 

The term “organized event” is different language from that used in Executive Order 2020-110, which prevented “social gatherings and events.”  The change suggests that the Governor may intend the term “event” to be construed more broadly than simply social gatherings.

While bars in the Traverse City Region and Upper Peninsula (Regions 6 and 8) are now prohibited from providing indoor service (consistent with the restriction in effect in the rest of the State), certain restrictions remain eased for these Regions. Within the Traverse City Region and Upper Peninsula only, outdoor events of no more than 250 people remain permissible subject to requirements for social distancing.  Additionally, within the Traverse City Region and Upper Peninsula, arcades, bowing alleys, sports arenas, theatres, and other similar indoor venues may be open to spectators or patrons to the extent the venue assures persons who are not part of the same household can maintain 6 feet of social distancing, and capacity is limited to the lesser of 25% of maximum capacity or 250 people.  Outdoor concert spaces, sports arenas, stadiums or similar venues in the Traverse City Region and Upper Peninsula may continue to host up to the lesser of 25% of maximum capacity or 500 persons.

Professional sporting events continue to be exempt from the restrictions requiring remote work and limiting capacity to the extent they do not allow a live audience and are conducted pursuant to a COVID-19 safety plan.  Additionally, the restrictions on gatherings are not applicable to polling places, meaning that absent a subsequent Executive Order, voting will proceed as normal for next week’s primary election.

Executive Order 2020-160 is silent as to summer camps, suggesting that at this time they are subject to the same general restrictions as other business and operations located within the region where they are located.

Executive Order 2020-160 continues to provide that any work which is capable of being performed remotely must be performed remotely.  Additionally, any individual who leaves his or her home must continue to follow social distancing measures recommended by the CDC and wear a face covering as required by Executive Order 2020-153.

Executive Order 2020-161 – Safeguards to Protect Michigan’s Workers from COVID-19

Most notably, Executive Order 2020-161 added workplace restrictions to provide for the reopening of Michigan’s casinos on August 5th at 10 a.m.  While many casinos located on tribal lands are already operating, the Detroit casinos will be permitted to resume operations.  Gamblers will no longer need to perfect their poker faces because face coverings will be required for all employees and customers, except when eating or drinking.

Michigan’s casinos will be limited to 15% of their occupancy limits, and in addition to employees, all customers will be screened for COVID-19 upon entry.  Smoking will be prohibited indoors.  Casinos are required to designate a Liaison Officer to whom employees need to report any contraction of or exposure to COVID-19, and disinfectant wipes must be provided throughout the casino.  HVAC systems must be maintained to maximize the delivery of fresh air into the casino, and social distancing will need to be maintained between slot machines by either installing a plexiglass barrier between machines or disabling machines or removing chairs as necessary to assure six feet of social distancing.  The following casino services will be closed:   concerts, nightclubs, live events, shows, valet service, coat check, and self-serve buffet, soda and coffee stations.

Executive Order 2020-161 includes a few other minor changes applicable to workplaces.  For example, the workplace restrictions applicable to restaurants were further clarified to provide that to the extent customers cannot wait in cars, restaurants and bars should take measures to encourage social distancing among customers waiting for tables.  The order requires customers who cannot wait in their car to wait outside the restaurant or bar.  Further, meat and poultry plants are ordered to provide workers with PPE that is disposable, if possible.  If disposable PPE is not available, then meat and poultry plants must ensure proper disinfection and storage of PPE in a clean location when not in use.

As permissible activities and restrictions applicable to Michiganders continue to evolve, please stay in touch with your Mika Meyers attorney.  Specific questions regarding Executive Orders 2020-160 and 2020-161 can be directed to Nate Wolf, Nikole Canute, and Scott Dwyer