LANSING, Mich. – With uncertainty around Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders following the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling on emergency powers, Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail has proactively issued countywide emergency orders to keep several COVID-19 protections in place. These include: use of face coverings, limitations on indoor and outdoor gathering sizes, 50 percent (or 125 person) capacity limit for restaurants, and mandatory employee health screenings.
The orders do not create new restrictions or requirements, but remove uncertainty around the continuation of precautionary measures for Ingham County residents and businesses. Ingham County is at level E, or the highest level of risk for COVID-19 according to the MI Safe Start Map.
“Health and science experts agree that facial coverings, social distancing and health screenings are critical to controlling the virus,” said Vail. “We have made too much progress to regress. We are working hard to get our young people back to school, keep our businesses and government open, and make progress in our economic recovery.”
The Public Health Code (Public Act 368 or 1978) provides the tools for a local health officer to protect the public’s health during an epidemic.
“Protecting Ingham County residents is a responsibility that I take very seriously,” Vail said. “With a recent surge in cases in Ingham County, now is not the appropriate time to relax precautions.”
The new emergency orders are: Ingham2020-21, Ingham2020-22, Ingham2020-23 and Ingham2020-24.
Under MCL 333.2453, the epidemic emergency order for local health departments under the Michigan Public Health Code, the local health officer can issue fairly broad orders. The statute states, “if a local health officer determines that control of an epidemic is necessary to protect the public health, the local health officer may issue an emergency order to prohibit the gathering of people for any purpose and may establish procedures to be followed by persons . . . during the epidemic to insure continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws.”
Consistent with MCL 333.2261 and 764.15(1), willful violation of any emergency order constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or a fine of not more than $200, or both. An individual may be arrested if violation occurs in the presence of a police officer, or the police officer has reasonable cause to believe individual has violated a rule or order.