New Michigan executive order sets fines up to $1,000 for violating social distance rules

To help control the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon issued an Emergency Order today setting a civil penalty of up to $1,000 and a process for referral to licensing agencies for violations of Executive Orders 2020-11, 2020-20 and 2020-21.

Criminal penalties for violation will remain an option for prosecutors. As of Tuesday, April 2, Michigan has recorded more than 10,000 cases of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) with 417 deaths. 

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“A person can have coronavirus without knowing it,” Gordon said. “They can spread the disease to others who can spread it to others. The only way to stop the spread is social distancing. A civil penalty and potential licensing actions send a strong message to Michiganders that social distancing is essential to saving lives.” 

The Emergency Order requires that every person must comply with the procedures and restrictions outlined in these Executive Orders and the instructions provided in their accompanying FAQs.

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Executive Order 2020-11 temporarily prohibits large assemblages and events and temporarily closes schools.
Executive Order 2020-20 places temporary restrictions on the use of places of public accommodation.
Executive Order 2020-21 temporarily restricts gatherings and travel and prohibits in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life.

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“There is not a vaccine or a recognized treatment for COVID-19 and our healthcare system is being severely taxed by this pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We need people to heed the Stay Home, Stay Safe order as well as other orders issued by the Governor to protect the health and safety of all Michiganders.” 

In addition to civil penalties, entities regulated by a licensing agency will be referred to relevant licensing agencies for additional enforcement action as determined by that agency. Places of religious worship, when used for religious worship, are exempt from the Emergency Rules.

Law enforcement agencies across the state are authorized to investigate potential violations of Executive Orders 2020-11, 2020-20 and 2020-21 and coordinating as necessary with their local health departments to enforce this Emergency Order within their jurisdiction. 

Law enforcement is specifically authorized to bar access to businesses and operations that fail to comply with the procedures and restrictions outlined in the Executive Orders. County prosecutors are authorized to enforce this Emergency Order to control the epidemic and protect the public health in coordination with the appropriate local law enforcement authority and, as necessary, the local health department.  

The Emergency Rule is being issued under MCL 333.2253(1). 

RELATED: Track Michigan coronavirus cases by county with this interactive map

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