With the Governor’s announcement today that the state is ordering the temporary closure of theaters, bars, and casinos, and limiting restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders, I know you are probably left with a lot of uncertainty and concern.
I want to assure you that I share the same concerns for the stability of our local businesses and the well-being of customers and employees. Open lines of communication and timely sharing of accurate information will be the key to weathering this period of uncertainty. To that end, I would like to lay out some of the key information that is currently available.
Statewide Coronavirus Hotline — (888) 535-6136
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched a statewide hotline to respond to your health-related questions about COVID-19. The hotline is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public health and other experts will answer your questions and direct you to the resources available in your local communities and in other state government departments.
Expanding Access to Telemedicine
Michigan residents receiving Medicaid benefits can now take advantage of telemedicine health services from their home. In addition, most major health insurers have announced that they will cover and encourage the use of virtual care, while waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing. Call your health care provider for more information.
Temporary Closure of Restaurants, Bars and other Public Accommodations
Effective Monday, March 16, at 3 p.m. until Monday, March 30, the following places of public accommodation will be closed; restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, bars, taverns, brewpubs, distilleries, clubs, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor performance venues, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, spas, and casinos.
This order does not restrict a place of business from offering food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service. Places of public accommodation are encouraged to do so and use precautions to mitigate potential transmission of COVID-19, including social distancing. Restaurants may allow five people inside at a time to pick up orders, so long as they stay six feet apart from each other.
These restrictions do not currently apply to the following locations: office buildings, grocery stores, markets, food pantries, pharmacies, drug stores, and providers of medical equipment and supplies, health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities, warehouse and distribution centers, and industrial and manufacturing facilities.
Expanding Unemployment Benefits
Beginning Monday, March 16, until Tuesday, April 14, Michigan is temporarily expanding unemployment benefit eligibility to those affected by COVID-19. Benefits will be extended to:
- Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, like child care due to school closures or caring for a loved one who is ill;
- Workers who are sick, quarantined or immunocompromised, and do not have access to paid leave time or are laid off; and
- First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined.
Benefits will also be extended from 20 to 26 weeks, the eligibility period would be increased from 14 to 28 days, and the normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.
The State is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance.
Eligible employees should apply for unemployment benefits online at Michigan.gov/UIA or by phone (866) 500-0017.
Under the order, an employer or employing unit must not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations.
K-12 School Closures
Beginning Monday, March 16, until Sunday, April 5, all K-12 school buildings, public, private, and boarding, are closed. Childcare facilities will remain open during this time, whether they are attached to schools or free standing.
Combating Price Gouging
Effective Monday, March 16, until Monday, April 13, Michigan is cracking down on businesses and individuals that engage in price gouging on consumer food items, emergency supplies, and other goods and materials. Residents are urged to report any price gouging or other violations of the Consumer Protection Act online by clicking here or by calling (877) 765-8388.
For a complete list of strategies from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to minimize your risk of exposure and to keep you and your loved ones healthy, click here. For the latest information as the situation continues to develop, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
My office will remain open throughout this emergency. Feel free to contact me in my office at (517) 373-1771. My main goals remain the health and safety of our residents and the economic prosperity of the region. Together, we will emerge from this crisis stronger than before!
Ronnie D. Peterson
54th House District