Today (3/23/2020), Michigan’s Governor issued an executive order (No. 2020-21) for the temporary suspension of activities in Michigan not deemed “necessary to sustain or protect life.” This order goes into effect on March 24, 2020, at 12:00 AM and continues until April 13, 2020, at 11:59 PM. A full copy is available here.
The Order imposes numerous restrictions on both personal and commercial activities.
As to commercial activities, all work that is not “necessary to sustain or protect life” is prohibited, except for businesses that employ workers (1) necessary to sustain or protect life, which is defined as “critical infrastructure workers (CIW);” or (2) individuals who must work to conduct minimum basic operations of the business (“MBO Worker”).
The Order adopts the definition of CIW used in the Director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) March 19, 2020 guidance on responding to Covid 19 (the “CISA Guidance”). The Order also specifies other workers not described in the CISA Guidance who will be considered CIW. These jobs include childcare workers, workers and volunteers for businesses providing food, shelter, and other services for economically disadvantaged individuals, workers in the insurance industry that cannot perform their work remotely, workers performing “critical labor union functions” that also cannot be done remotely.
To qualify as an MBO Worker, businesses must make that determination and follow proscribed notice requirements, and following other practices intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
What Should Your Business Do in Response to the Michigan Suspension Order?
First, business owners should determine whether they may continue to operate under the exceptions provided for in the Order. Importantly, even if your business does not fall into a category exempted by Governor Whitmer’s Order, it may still continue to operate if it employs workers in relation to providing services as a “designated supplier or distribution center” for businesses or operations that do employ individuals considered CIW’s.
Second, you should focus on which individuals may continue to work under the Order and comply with the notice requirements for that determination.
Third, businesses who may continue operations and employ individuals working under either the designation of a CIW or MBO Worker must follow certain measures described in the Order to protect the health and safety of their workers and the public. Among these measures are following the CDC recommendations or social distancing of at least 6 feet, increased standards of facility cleaning and disinfection, adopting policies to prevent workers from entering the premises if they display respiratory symptoms or have had contact with a person known or suspected to have been diagnosed with having the coronavirus.
In addition to complying with this Suspension Order, business owners should also be looking at recovering financial losses related to the coronavirus shut-down, which may be covered under business insurance interruption policies. For more information on this topic, see our firm’s publication, Coronavirus Closed Your Businesses; Can You Recover Your Losses?