State Issues “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, Ask Businesses to Shut Down at Least Three Weeks, Michigan Chamber Disagrees

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (EO 2020-21), directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.
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Gov. Whitmer has signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order banning business not necessary for life. // Stock photo

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (EO 2020-21), directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.

The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.

Effective at 12:01 am on March 24, 2020, for at least the next three weeks, individuals may only leave their home or place of residence under very limited circumstances, and they must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when they do so, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household to the extent feasible under the circumstances.

“In just 13 days, we’ve gone from 0 to over 1,000 COVID-19 cases,” says Whitmer. “This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities. The most effective way we can slow down the virus is to stay home. I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary. If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home,

Executive Order 2020-21 prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses and operations are to designate the workers that meet those criteria, and must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons in the performance of that necessary in-person work.

Workers that are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers, and more. For a full list of these critical infrastructure workers, click here.

Additionally, under Executive Order 2020-21, all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons outside a single household are temporarily prohibited. People may leave the house to perform for limited, necessary purposes, and may engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside a person’s household and with other restrictions imposed by prior executive orders.

Michigan is currently in the top five states in the nation in number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Several governors across the country have taken similar steps to protect their communities from the spread of COVID-19, including governors Mike DeWine (R-OH), Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), Tom Wolf (D-PA), Gavin Newsom (D-CA), John Bel Edwards (D-LA), Phil Murphy (D-NJ), and Ned Lamont (D-CT).

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

For those who have questions about the state’s actions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-535-6136 between 8AM – 5PM daily.

Michiganders can apply for unemployment benefits if they have left work or taken a leave of absence because of self-isolation or self-quarantine in response to elevated risk from COVID-19 due to being immunocompromised, displaying the symptoms of COVID-19, having contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, the need to care for someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, or a family care responsibility as a result of a government directive. Those temporarily laid off from work should apply for unemployment benefits online at or 1-866-500-0017.

Gov. Whitmer is working to ensure that children who rely on the food provided by schools will have the resources they need. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has developed an online map for families to find meals. Families can access the map here.

On March 19, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved the governor’s request for a statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) declaration, opening the opportunity to small businesses to access low-interest loans from the SBA. The application for disaster loan assistance is available here. For businesses looking for more information on how to apply for an SBA EIDL loan or whether it is something they should consider, click here.

Michigan Chamber of Commerce Letter to Gov. Whitmer

March 20, 2020

Dear Governor Whitmer:

Thank you for your efforts to combat COVID-19 (coronavirus) and protect Michigan families and businesses. We appreciate your leadership and the measured approach you have taken in response to the public health emergency thus far.

As governors in other states are considering or have issued “Shelter in Place” or “Stay at Home” orders, we strongly urge you that you approach any similar order for Michigan as a last resort. While there are important public health measures states need to take to help limit the spread of the virus, we ask you to consider the lay-offs and mandatory business closures any similar order would undoubtedly trigger. Quite frankly, we are concerned that an untimely or overly broad order would create unnecessary and long-term damage to Michigan’s economic health.

Not all Michigan businesses need to cease operations due to the threat of COVID-19. For example, many businesses provide essential services and goods to our citizens. We cannot risk a disruption in the supply chain or a break in the distribution cycle. In addition, many businesses have non-interruptible operations, and those operations need to be protected as we move forward. Finally, we would urge you to allow businesses to continue operations unless there is a high public health risk to employees or the general public.

At this time, we recommend against a “Stay at Home” or “Shelter in Place” executive order that starts from the premise that most, if not all, 877,000 businesses in Michigan should be closed, while a select few are allowed to stay open. As we have watched other states embark down this economically damaging road, we have seen long lists of winners and losers in executive orders that are unnecessary and create more challenges for the state to administer. However, if in coming weeks you decide that the public health emergency warrants going further, we recommend that you review the 3/18/20 and 3/20/20 letters from by the U.S. Chamber and delivered to President Trump and Governors Hogan and Cuomo and to include a quick, efficient, and no-cost appeals process that is fair and balanced.

Employers need time to give their employees and customers notice, safely close down equipment and machinery, complete essential projects, and prepare contingency plans. For the vast majority of businesses, an order to cease operations on anything less than 72 hours would be impractical and impose severe hardship on the company’s employees, customers, and operations.

As you contemplate how to move forward, we encourage you to read yesterday’s Wall Street Journal editorial, “Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown: No society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its economic health.” We believe it provides a balanced viewpoint on this critical issue.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss this matter further, and thank you for your consideration.

Rich Studley
President and CEO

CC: Senate Majority Leader Shirkey, Speaker Chatfield

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