The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order Thursday, April 2, 2020, increasing fines to $1,000 for not complying with executive orders that ban gatherings and non-essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with the $1,000 fine, the state health department said violators could also be reviewed by any state licensing agency and that licensing agency could also apply a penalty. “A person can have coronavirus without knowing it,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said in a written announcement on the fines. “They can spread the disease to others who can spread it to others. The only way to stop the spread is social distancing. A civil penalty and potential licensing actions send a strong message to Michiganders that social distancing is essential to saving lives.” The health department said places of religious worship were exempt from the emergency rules, but only when used for religious worship.
WGRT spoke with St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon who said that residents can call dispatch to report concerns about executive order violations. They will address violations with the goal of education first and then enforcement. He explained that these violations are 90 day misdemeanors with a fine, and he would hope citizens would prefer to comply rather than go to jail during the pandemic. When asked how the community is doing with compliance, Donnellon said, “We have had very little problem in St. Clair County from our citizens.”
Reporting for WGRT – Jessie Wiegand