There’s no question that the past few weeks have been difficult for all of us, especially for those who have lost family, friends and loved ones in the fight against COVID-19. But each of us has a vital role to play in stopping the spread of this virus and protecting the lives of our neighbors — staying home as much as possible. That’s why Gov. Whitmer is extending the Stay Home, Stay Safe order until April 30.
Extending the Stay Home, Stay Safe order was not a decision the governor made lightly, but it really is our best way to save lives and finally bring this crisis to an end. Below you’ll find additional information about Gov. Whitmer’s newest order.
Serving Our Critical Needs
Gov. Whitmer’s executive order helps to clarify additional businesses that may remain open to meet our communities’ critical needs:
- Retail stores that sell products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and basic operations of residences, including convenience stores, pet supply, auto supplies and repair, hardware and home improvement, and appliance stores.
- Laundromats, coin laundries and dry cleaners.
- Hotels and motels.
- Auto dealerships.
Protecting Michigan Workers and Communities
We may never be able to fully express the depth of our gratitude and appreciation for the Michiganders who risk their own safety each day to serve our communities on the frontlines of this crisis, but we can at least ensure their employers do everything they can to mitigate the threat of COVID-19. Gov. Whitmer’s executive order requires open businesses to:
- Restrict workers on premises to those absolutely necessary for operation.
- Allow remote work as much as possible.
- Maintain social distancing for workers and customers as much as possible.
- Enhance cleaning and disinfecting protocols and practices.
- Establish strict screening protocols to keep workers with COVID-19 symptoms from entering the business.
- Develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.
- Limit the number of customers in the store.
Big Box retail stores (50,000 square feet or larger) must also:
- Only allow sales of products and services that are directly required to protect and sustain life.
- Prohibit access to products such as carpet or flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries and paint.
- Use curbside pick-up to reduce lines and in-store access.
- Create special shopping times for seniors, pregnant women and others with chronic medical conditions.
Michigan’s self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers affected by COVID-19 can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) beginning today at 8 a.m. Under the federal CARES Act, workers on state unemployment have already begun receiving the set $600 federal weekly payment in addition to their state benefit amount. Michigan is one of the first states to begin sending the $600 payment. Self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers who have previously applied for unemployment benefits and have been denied should login to their MiWAM account to complete the next steps for PUA federal benefits. These steps will also be emailed to workers. They should not file a new claim, as that may delay the time it takes to get their benefits.
All newly eligible workers will need to provide proof of income to receive the maximum amount they are entitled. This could include W-2s, 1099 tax forms, and pay stubs. These workers will begin receiving federal benefits as early as April 20 after their bi-weekly certification.
The number of Michigan workers displaced by this pandemic has resulted in significantly increased online and phone traffic to Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). While UIA mobilizes its entire team to respond to claims and hires additional staff to assist, they encourage workers to follow a new filing schedule to streamline the process.
Online Filing Schedule — Michigan.gov/UIA.
Workers are encouraged to go online during off-peak times between 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
- Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to file claims on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.
- Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
- Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
Call Center Filing Schedule — (866) 500-0017
- Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Fridays between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether a worker receives benefits or their benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19. The eligibility window to apply has also been increased from 14 to 28 days from the date of their work stoppage.
This crisis is a defining moment for our community, our state and our country. These may be uncertain times for all of us, but I am confident that we will respond with the same strength and resilience that Michiganders always have.
State Representative, 95th House District