Violate The Social Distancing Order In Michigan? You Could Face A $1,000 Fine

A new Emergency Order sets a civil penalty

WWJ News
April 03, 2020 - 9:28 am

(WWJ) Before you meet with the boys for barbeque or gather the girls for wine night — know that you could face a hefty fine. 

To help control the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon on April 2, issued an Emergency Order 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.

“A person can have coronavirus without knowing it,” Gordon said, in written notice announcing the order.  “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.

  • 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.

Find all the details of the Executive orders AT THIS LINK.

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

“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.”

Any potential criminal penalty for gathering in groups or otherwise violating the orders will remain an option for prosecutors.

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. 

It's important to note, however, that Michigan State Police say they will not be pulling over or stopping people to ask where they're going; and no one is required to carry special papers or proof of their business or destination. 

As of Thursday's last official count, Michigan has recorded more than 10,000 cases of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) with 417 deaths.