On March 23, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer exercised her powers under the Emergency Management Act, MCL 30.403(1)-(2), and issued Executive Order No. 2020-21 in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. The Order, deemed a “stay-at-home order,” is a “temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.” The Order will have an incredible impact on each and every Michigander not only over the coming three weeks, but also in months and years to come.
The Order takes effect on March 24, 2020 at 12:01 A.M. and remains in effect until at least April 13, 2020, at 11:59 P.M. During this time, any individual living within the State of Michigan must stay at home and, subject to certain enumerated exceptions, all public or private gatherings occurring among persons not part of a single household are prohibited. More specifically, the Order mandates the following:
Exempt Activities: Individuals may leave their homes to: engage in outdoor activity (i.e., walking, running, biking, hiking); seek medical attention and supplies necessary to address a medical emergency or preserve the health and safety of a family member; shop for essentials (groceries; medical supplies; necessary household supplies; take-out; and/or necessary parts for a vehicle); care for a family member; perform their job as a critical infrastructure worker (defined below); to conduct minimum business operations (discussed below); among other activities.
Critical infrastructure worker: Although not specifically defined in the Order, critical infrastructure workers are those workers who are necessary to sustain or protect life. Such workers and businesses may continue in-person operations. A business must identify, in writing, its critical infrastructure workers. The Order enumerates the following fields as potentially involving workers that are necessary to sustain and protect life:
o Health care and public health;
o Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders;
o Food and agriculture;
o Waste and wastewater;
o Transportation and logistics;
o Public works
o Communications and information technology, including news media;
o Other community-based governmental operations and essential functions;
o Critical manufacturing;
o Hazardous materials;
o Financial services;
o Chemical supply chains and safety;
o Defense industrial base;
o Child care for children of critical infrastructure workers;
o Workers at designated supplier and distribution centers.
Minimum business operations: The Order further provides that individuals may leave their home to conduct minimum business operations. Employers must designate their workers who are strictly necessary to conduct minimum business operations in writing. Specifically, workers who are strictly necessary to conduct minimum business operations are those who maintain the value of inventory and equipment; care for animals; protect security; and enable others to work remotely.
Naturally, employees and employers alike have questions concerning the order. For example, as an employee, what are my rights? What is my current employment status as a result of the act? Am I entitled to backpay? How will afford to pay my mortgage? Or how will this Order affect my bankruptcy or structured settlement? Employers face similar questions, such as what steps must I take to comply with the order? Do any of my employees qualify as critical infrastructure workers? How will I manage the business’s financial affairs in a State of Emergency? The Attorneys at Chase Bylenga Hulst are willing and ready to address these questions and more.
Long Term Impact
The effects of the Order and COVID-19 will last well beyond the next three weeks, likely causing ripple effects months and years down the road. Everyone, employees and employers alike, will be affected by the spread of COVID-19. Chase Bylenga Hulst, PLLC, provides services that will be of high importance in the coming weeks and months, including:
Estate Planning and Probate: The rapid spread of COVID-19 has reminded many of how fragile their circumstances may be. Consider taking the necessary measures to ensure that you and your loved one’s affairs are in order, such as the drafting of Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney.
Individual Bankruptcy: We are already beginning to see the draconian impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world economy. Unfortunately, many individuals will suffer from financial difficulty as a result. The Attorneys at Chase Bylenga Hulst, PLLC, have successfully filed thousands of bankruptcies, negotiated innumerable creditor settlements, and have discharged millions of dollars in debt for or clients in Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies.
Business Reorganization and Liquidation: Forced to temporarily close their doors, many small businesses will face uphill financial battles. Congress’s recent passage of the Small Business Reorganization Act may represent a beacon of light for small businesses. This particular form of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy was specifically designed for the reorganization and continuation of otherwise viable small businesses. Further, Chase Bylenga Hulst, PLLC, is experienced in business reorganization and liquidation outside of the bankruptcy context and can assist you in getting your business back on its feet.
Creditor Services: The expected rise in bankruptcy filings will further predicate the need for effective creditor services. Chase Bylenga Hulst, PLLC, routinely represents creditors in adversary proceedings, contested matters, and negotiations.
Tax Law: Decreased cashflow and a volatile economic market will also present tax difficulties for many Americans. Chase Bylenga Hulst, PLLC, can review your current tax status and provide strategies to avoid potential and future tax issues for individual and businesses.
Sadly, the repercussions around COVID-19 will be widespread. Above all else, Chase Bylenga Hulst requests that you follow the Order issued by Governor Whitmer and stay inside to protect yourself, your family, your friends, and society as a whole. In the event that any issues arise in the coming weeks, months, and years, contact the experienced Attorneys at Chase Bylenga Hulst, PLLC, for a free consultation.