In This Issue:
- Governor Announces Ease on COVID-19 Business Restrictions
- Business Groups to Gov. Whitmer re. Restaurant Reopening
- COVID-19 Relief Package Approved by State Legislature, Heads to Governor for Final Approval
- Lansing Chamber Continues to Push to Ease Restrictions on Office Work
- Chip-In So We Can Elect Business Friendly Candidates
- In the News
Governor Announces Ease on COVID-19 Business Restrictions
Governor Whitmer announced several changes to the Gatherings and Face Mask Order that will ease restrictions on businesses. A key part of the announcement was the increased capacity for restaurants and bars, which the Lansing Regional Chamber along with several of business organizations throughout the state called on the Governor to act on last week. Changes to the Gatherings and Mask Order go into effect Friday, March 5, and remain in effect through Monday, April 19. Capacity changes include:
- Restaurants and bars are allowed to be at 50% capacity up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. There is now an 11 p.m. curfew.
- Indoor non-residential gatherings where people interact across households are permitted up to 25 people, allowing public meetings and other small indoor gatherings to resume.
- Outdoor non-residential gatherings where people interact across households are permitted up to 300, allowing larger outdoor events to resume.
- Indoor entertainment venues are allowed to be at 50% capacity, up to 300 people.
- Exercise facilities are allowed to be at 30% capacity with restrictions on distancing and mask requirements.
- Retail is allowed to be at 50% capacity.
- Casinos are allowed to be at 30% capacity.
- Indoor stadiums and arenas are allowed have 375 if seating capacity is under 10,000; 750 if seating capacity is over 10,000.
- Outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities may host up to 1,000 patrons.
Indoor residential gatherings are now limited to 15 people from three households, while outdoor residential gatherings can include up to 50 people.
Links to more information can be found below.
- March 5 Gatherings Order Infographic
- Social Gathering Guidance
- Capacity Limits Fact Sheet
- Outdoor Seating Infographic
- Residential Care Visitation Order Infographic
- Visitation Order Special Cases
- Key Metrics Infographic
COVID-19 Relief Package Approved by State Legislature, Heads to Governor for Final Approval
The Michigan State Legislature has passed the $4.2B COVID-19 relief funding package, which will now head to Governor Whitmer to be signed into law. ***Please note that all bills are subject to a veto by the Governor.
House Bill 4047 includes $2.3 billion in total funding to meet the goals of ensuring healthier families and communities and helping create a healthier economy, such as:
- $110 million in additional support for vaccine distribution. $36.7 million is dedicated to improving the governor’s poor vaccine rollout. The rest of the funds will be held in reserve until vaccine doses are available and the governor’s plan is completed.
- $204 million for COVID-19 testing, including $37.5 million to increase virus testing for students, teachers and staff in order to help in-person learning resume statewide as soon as possible. The funding also includes $25 million for nursing home testing.
- $370 million in contingent COVID-19 testing funds. This full-funding of testing is contingent on the governor signing Senate Bill 1, which would require the state health department to receive legislative approval of emergency orders beyond 28 days and to provide the science and data being used to make emergency public health declarations.
- $150 million to increase pay for direct care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus in hospitals and nursing homes.
- $33.4 million for mental health services and substance abuse prevention.
- $300 million to assist workers and businesses facing financial ruin due to the governor’s shutdown orders. These grants will offset property tax payments for affected businesses.
- $1.3 million to provide home-delivered meals to seniors, using organizations such as Meals on Wheels.
- $150 million to repay the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund for fraudulent benefits paid out by the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
- $283 million in emergency rental assistance to ensure Michiganders struggling financially due to the pandemic and Gov. Whitmer’s orders can remain in their homes.
- $55 million for grants to help struggling businesses with unemployment taxes.
- $50 million to reimburse Michigan businesses that were charged licensing and inspection fees by the state even when their businesses were closed through no fault of their own.
HB 4048 includes $2 billion in school funding to help build a healthier future, such as:
- A minimum of $450 per pupil to tackle learning loss associated with school closures.
- $189 million to support summer school to help students catch up.
- $10 million to reimburse parents for costs associated with summer school.
- $20 million for student mental health services.
- $11.7 million for benchmark assessments in reading and math.
- $87 million in federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grants for nonpublic schools.
Over $840 million in the school funding in HB 4048 is tied to the governor signing HB 4049, which would prevent the Department of Health and Human Services director from issuing an emergency public health order that closes a school to in-person instruction or prohibits a qualified sporting event during a coronavirus epidemic. Sporting events would include certain events and team practices of schools, colleges and universities, and local organizations. HB 4049 would also add four criteria that must be met for a local health department to close schools to in-person instruction or to prohibit qualified sporting events as part of a coronavirus emergency public health order, including:
- Confirmed local coronavirus cases rise above 55 per 1 million within a 14-day period.
- Percentage of local positive coronavirus tests rise above 10% within a 14-day period.
- Surge capacity falls below 20% in admissions or patient transfers for each local health facility.
- Coronavirus local hospitalizations increase by 25% or more within a 14-day period.
Lansing Chamber Continues to Push to Ease Restrictions on Office Work
Although the Governor did not address a return-to-work plan for office workers, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce along with a coalition of business groups will continue to urge the Governor to allow employees to return to the office.
From Grand Rapids to Lansing and Detroit, empty office buildings have a damaging impact not only on productivity, innovation, collaboration, and mental health, but also has put an incredible strain on our communities.
Chip-In So We Can Elect Business Friendly Candidates
We have seen firsthand how government regulations can impact business operations and how important it is to have strong relationships with our elected officials. During the 2020 cycle, the Lansing Regional Chamber-Political Action Committee (LRC-PAC) still was engaged in ensuring that we endorsed and elected candidates running for local offices to the County Commission and Township Board of Trustees as well as to the State House of Representatives and Congress.
Chip in $25
Chip in $50
Chip in $75
Chip in $100
95% (39/41) of our endorsed candidates won in 2020 and we look forward to working with them as we navigate through the ongoing pandemic. For election 2021, the LRC-PAC is setting our sights on our region’s two largest municipalities: Lansing and East Lansing.
How can you help? Both city elections will be critical to our region, especially, Lansing’s mayoral race. We know it has been challenging due to COVID-19 but we are asking you to chip in to provide any financial support to the LRC-PAC so we can hit the ground running in 2021.
In the News
- Crain’s Detroit Business: Michigan business groups to Whitmer: Time to ease office-work restrictions
- Crain’s Detroit Business: Business groups start push to ease restrictions on office work
- MLive: Business leaders to Whitmer: It’s time to let employees work in offices again