Whitmer’s Emergency Orders Have Been Struck Down. Now What?

MICHIGAN — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers were struck down Friday by the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled that a 1945 law she was citing was unconstitutional.

So, now what? As it turns out, several other entities have taken safety measures amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic into their own hands and some restrictions will remain in place.

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A 21-Day Battle

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday, which Whitmer has called a matter of partisan politics, has raised several legal questions Whitmer’s office said it is still reviewing.

Many of the questions concern when the previously issued executive orders will be voided. Whitmer’s office previously said they would not take effect until 21 days from the court’s ruling, citing Michigan Supreme Court law.

“When it comes to fighting COVID-19, we are all in this together,” Whitmer’s office said in a statement. “While we are moving swiftly, this transition will take time. As the governor said last week, many of the responsive measures she has put in place to control the spread of the virus will continue under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in the court’s ruling. We will have more to say on this in the coming days. Make no mistake, Governor Whitmer will continue using every tool at her disposal to keep Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses safe from this deadly virus.”

Counties Coming Up With Plans

A day after the Michigan Supreme Court made its ruling to remove some of Whitmer’s executive powers, Oakland County was among Michigan communities to step up and implement their own orders.

Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford on Saturday issued local health order 2020-12, requiring that people wear masks or facial coverings when outside their home in Oakland County.

Stafford said additional health orders may be issued in the coming days to cover capacity at restaurants, bars, employee health screenings and other public health concerns.

“Health and science experts agree that facial coverings are critical to controlling the virus,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “We have come too far to backslide now especially as we want to get kids back to school and our economy moving again. In Oakland County masks will continue to be mandatory by order of our health experts. I am confident that our residents and businesses will continue to keep each other safe and protected.”

The order covers residents who are in any public space outside their home, includes K-12 schools and when outside and social distancing isn’t possible. Children other 5 and people who cannot medically tolerate facial coverings are among exceptions.

“Oakland County was hit hard by the COVID-19 and the virus is still in our communities,” Stafford said. “The law provides the tools for a local health officer to protect the public’s health during an epidemic and that is my solemn responsibility. We will work closely with State health officials on additional measures to control the virus.”

Oakland County wasn’t alone in its hasty response. Ingham County, which encompasses Lansing and has had recent outbreaks of the coronavirus, also issued orders requiring masks and limiting restaurant capacity at 50 percent.

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 Health Officer Linda S. Vail said

“Health and science experts agree that facial coverings, social distancing and health screenings are critical to controlling the virus,” Vail said. “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.”

MDHHS Epidemic Orders Still In Effect

While Whitmer’s executive orders will be voided later this month, several orders issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will remain in effect.

Several of the orders include testing for Michigan jails and prisoners, as well as testing at nursing homes and visitation restrictions.

A full list of the orders can be viewed here.

Nessel Won’t Enforce Rules

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office will no longer enforce Whitmer’s executive orders in light of the Michigan Supreme Court’s Friday ruling.

However, she said, her decision is not binding on other law enforcement agencies or state departments with independent enforcement authority.

“It’s her fervent hope that people continue to abide by the measures that Governor Whitmer put in place – like wearing face masks, adhering to social distancing requirements and staying home when sick – since they’ve proven effective at saving lives,” said Ryan Jervi, Nessel’s press secretary. “If it weren’t for the Governor’s actions, countless more of our friends, family and neighbors would have been lost to COVID-19. We can respect both the court’s decision and the advice of medical experts by continuing with these important measures voluntarily.”

Read More: Whitmer Responds To Supreme Court Ruling Striking Down Her Orders

This article originally appeared on the Detroit Patch

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