The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued new coronavirus-related restrictions that would potentially punish violators with jail time.
The updated restrictions come as COVID-19 cases spike worldwide, an unsurprising development as the Northern Hemisphere plunges into fall and winter is around the corner. The U.S. set multiple records for daily new cases last week.
Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has responded to the spike in cases by rolling back the state’s reopening plan in parts of the state.
What are the new restrictions?
The MDHHS issued updated guidance last Thursday requiring dine-in restaurants, barber shops and salons, tattoo shops, businesses that provide in-home services like cleaning or repairs, gyms, and entertainment facilities to record the personal information of each patron or client.
The mandate also forces such businesses to deny services to any customer “who does not provide, at a minimum, their name and phone number.”
Officials claimed the information would be used to “aid contract tracing.”
The order is so broad, in fact, that it essentially applies to everyone in Michigan. “Upon request, businesses, schools, and other facilities must provide names and phone numbers of individuals with possible COVID-19 exposure to MDHHS and local health departments to aid in contact tracing and case investigation efforts,” the order says.
Businesses or individuals who violate the order may be subject to jail time.
“[V]iolation of this order is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or a fine of not more than $200.00, or both,” the order reads.
The updated restrictions also limits non-residential indoor gatherings to just 50 people — down from 500 — and states, “For all non-residential gatherings, if attendees are seated at tables, no more than six persons may share a table and tables must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart.”
As WBCK-FM noted, although the latest restrictions come via the MDHHS, Whitmer is almost certainly behind the updated order.
That is because the Michigan Supreme Court ruled last month that Whitmer’s direct COVID-related executive orders were “an unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution.”
In response, Whitmer vowed to bypass the high court’s ruling to implement her will via “alternative sources of authority.”
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution,” Whitmer said after the ruling, according to MLive.com.
“It is important to note that this ruling does not take effect for at least 21 days, and until then, my emergency declaration and orders retain the force of law,” she continued. “Furthermore, after 21 days, many of the responsive measures I have put in place to control the spread of the virus will continue under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in today’s ruling.”