Whitmer seeking to extend State of Emergency while planning to open more businesses

This graph shows how Michigan was divided geographically to help decide when areas of the...
This graph shows how Michigan was divided geographically to help decide when areas of the economy can reopen.(WJRT)
Published: Apr. 27, 2020 at 5:09 PM EDT
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(4/27/2020) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be asking the Michigan Legislature to extend her State of Emergency by four more weeks this week.

The emergency declaration is slated to expire on Thursday and requires approval from legislators to extend it. Whitmer wants to see the State of Emergency remain in place for at least 28 more days.

That would continue the emergency declaration through Memorial Day weekend.

She is hoping to work with Republican legislators, who often have been critical of her emergency orders, to continue emergency measures and develop plans for reopening Michigan's economy.

“It’s better for everyone if we work together,” Whitmer said.

However, she pointed out many of her emergency powers are included in the Michigan Constitution and state laws, so she can continue issuing and enforcing orders without a State of Emergency extension.

However, planning to continue reopening Michigan businesses remains ongoing. Whitmer described the effort to re-engage the economy as turning a dial to reduce or increase restrictions as conditions require.

“If we move forward and everything looks good for a couple weeks, we can look at expanding,” Whitmer said.

Lawn care and landscaping businesses were allowed to reopen on Monday. Residential and commercial construction likely will be the next to return, but no dates were announced Monday.

Whitmer said her administration is studying various industrial sectors to determine whether they can reopen soon.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who is Michigan's chief medical executive, said public health officials will track coronavirus data closely to make sure reopening more businesses doesn't cause a spike in coronavirus cases.

"We want to make sure we’re safe before doing additional things,” she said.

Leaders of the new Michigan Economic Recovery Council laid out the MI Safe Start initiative, which relies on a complicated set of metrics the group is using to advise Whitmer on when to increase or decrease restrictions.

The council, which is comprised of private business and labor leaders from around Michigan, has divided the state into eight geographic regions and workers into nine types of labor.

Geographically, they will study the public health statistics to see what health care assets are available and how coronavirus is spreading. They also will consider how well various types of work can support social distancing guidelines.

DTE Energy Executive Chairman Gerry Anderson said members of the council have reached out to companies nationwide and worldwide who are farther along with their recoveries for advice on how to proceed.

As businesses reopen, they will have to adopt new safety practices that are being developed by industry experts and public health professionals. Those practices include use of personal protective equipment and ways to screen employees or customers.

Whitmer is continuing her ban on employers penalizing workers for taking time off when they have coronavirus symptoms or someone in their household gets the illness.