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Order Closing Michigan Restaurant for Dine-In Service in Limbo as Gov. Whitmer, Legislature Argue Over State of Emergency

The current order expires after April 30 unless an extension is issued

A sign explains the closure of a Detroit, Michigan restaurant due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 24, 2020. - At 12:01 am Tuesday March 24,2020 Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered a ‘Stay at Home and Stay Safe Order’ to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the State of Michigan which now has 1,791 confirmed cases and 24 deaths due to the virus. (Photo by SETH HERALD / AFP) Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images

As the executive order extending Michigan’s restaurant dining room closure nears its May 1 expiration date, the legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are locked in a debate over whether to extend the state of emergency.

The state of emergency gives Whitmer powers to take actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including closing down bars and restaurants for dine-in service and imposing a stay-at-home order.

State Republicans argue that the current executive orders have gravely damaged the state’s economy, and say that with appropriate measures, businesses should be able to return to work safely. Whitmer, a Democrat, is urging caution; she says that the executive orders have saved lives and is advocating for slower reengagement of certain sectors of the state economy in order to take pressure off the state’s medical care system and avoid a second spike in COVID-19 cases. Whitmer and many legal experts contend that she does not need authorization from the legislature to continue the state of emergency.

A Michigan Court of Claims judge issued an opinion blocking a request for an injunction of portions of Whitmer’s stay-at-home order — now extended through May 15. Whitmer had previously loosened some aspects of the stay-at-home order, which incited protests at the state capitol in Lansing and tweets by President Donald Trump.

State bars and restaurants have been closed for dine-in service since March 16, although a some are continuing to offer carryout and delivery service. The order was extended a second time on April 13, but that extension expires after April 30.

If the legislature and the governor’s office cannot find common ground after today, Michigan may face confusion going into May as to whether state executive orders remain in effect, including order number No. 2020-43 that mandates restaurants and bars close for dine-in service.

Eater has reached out to the governor’s office for more information on an extension of the dine-in closure order and will update this piece when details are available.

This piece was updated at 12:37 p.m. on April 30.

Michigan Extends Restaurant Dining Room Closures Until End of April [ED]
Governor and Legislature Headed for Major Split Over State of Emergency [Freep]
All Coronavirus Coverage [E]
How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Detroit Food and Beverage Industry [ED]

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