On May 21, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued a new “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-96, which takes effect immediately (unless otherwise specified in the order), and remains in effect until June 12, 2020. (The duration of the order was extended by Mich Exec Order No 2020-100, issued on May 22, 2020.) Mich Exec Order No 2020-96 rescinds the previous “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-92. The new order generally continues the measures set forth in the previous order (outlined here), but includes several notable changes. Among other things, the new order:
- Permits gatherings of 10 or fewer people as long as participants observe social distancing practices.
- Starting May 29, permits nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures. The order rescinds Mich Exec Order No 2020-18 regarding postponement of nonessential medical and dental procedures and Mich Exec Order 2020-34 regarding postponement of veterinary services as of that date. These services can resume under the new order, provided that the facilities comply with Mich Exec Order No 2020-97.
- Starting May 26, permits retail businesses and car dealership showrooms to operate by appointment only, limited to 10 customers at a time. This excludes places of public accommodation closed under Mich Exec Order No 2020-69 (like restaurants, bars, theaters, libraries, gyms, and casinos).
- Requires compliance with worker safety measures outlined in new Mich Exec Order No 2020-97, discussed below.
Governor Whitmer’s office has issued FAQs related to Mich Exec Order No 2020-96. Of particular note to attorneys is the following:
Q: Can law firms, attorney offices and legal aid clinics continue in-person activities or remote activities on legal matters within a law office?
A: Generally, no. Attorneys are only allowed to work outside the home or meet in-person with clients to extent that they cannot perform the work remotely or cannot comply with their ethical obligations by performing the work remotely. All work under the order must be performed remotely to the greatest extent possible, and any in-person work must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons, as described in Executive Order 2020-97 and any orders that may follow from it.
Mich Exec Order No 2020-97 outlines the safeguards required to protect Michigan workers. It expands on the safeguards initially enumerated in Mich Exec Order No 2020-91 by adding specific safety protocols for outpatient health care facilities, including clinics, primary care physician offices, dental offices, and veterinary clinics. Among other things, these protocols include specific waiting room requirements, contactless sign-in, reserved hours for vulnerable patients, and required facial coverings “except as necessary for identification or to facilitate an examination or procedure.” The order requires providers to continue to employ telehealth and telemedicine “to the greatest extent possible.”