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MDHHS Issues New Emergency Order Prohibiting In-Person Public Meetings & Requiring Work from Home

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Laura J. Genovich and Cody A. Mott
Foster Swift Municipal Law News E-blast
November 16, 2020

Coronavirus MichiganThe Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new emergency order to combat the spread of the novel Coronavirus. The order, which takes effect on November 18, 2020, strictly limits the size of gatherings and requires employers to create a work-from-home policy. The order also keeps intact face mask requirements, moves high schools to remote learning, and mandates certain entities conduct contact tracing. This order remains in effect through December 8, 2020.

Gatherings and Public Meetings

The order prohibits all non-residential indoor gatherings and limits outdoor gatherings to the lesser of 25 or fewer persons or 20 persons per 1,000 square feet. While the order excludes food service establishments, retail stores, libraries, and museums from these limitations, it does not provide any exception that would allow public bodies to host indoor, in-person meetings.

Instead, public bodies should host any meeting scheduled for between now and December 8 electronically, such as by Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The meeting platform must allow for two-way communications between the members of the public and the public body. The meeting must be noticed on your website’s homepage, and be published at least 18 hours before the meeting begins. The notice must include why the public body is meeting electronically, how members of the public may participate, how members of the public may contact members of the public body, and how persons with disabilities may participate.

Please contact your Foster Swift attorney or a member of our Municipal Practice Group for more information on how to properly notice and conduct an electronic meeting.


The other substantive change in the MDHHS order impacting public bodies is the requirement  that all employers, including municipalities, create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent such employees can feasibly complete their work activities remotely. A worker can feasibly work from home even if he or she is less productive at home or if there is an extra expense in providing the worker work-from-home equipment, such as a laptop. This likely includes most office workers and administrators.

Workers that cannot feasibly work from home, such as first responders, public works employees, and employees whose work requires interaction with the public or access to public records, may continue to work in-person, provided that they wear face coverings and remain socially distanced as required.

The work-from-home policy may be included in your COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan or as a separate document. Please contact your Foster Swift attorney or a member of our Coronavirus Taskforce for assistance with drafting a work-from-home policy.