Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Mitigating the economic harms of the COVID-19 pandemic through the creation of a spirits buyback program for restaurants and bars throughout the state
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. It is caused by a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans and easily spread from person to person. There is currently no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment for this disease.
On March 10, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services identified the first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. On that same day, I issued Executive Order 2020-4. This order declared a state of emergency across the state of Michigan under section 1 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Emergency Management Act, 1976 PA 390, as amended, MCL 30.401 et seq., and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, 1945 PA 302, as amended, MCL 10.31 et seq.
In the three weeks that followed, the virus spread across Michigan, bringing deaths in the hundreds, confirmed cases in the thousands, and deep disruption to this state’s economy, homes, and educational, civic, social, and religious institutions. On April 1, 2020, in response to the widespread and severe health, economic, and social harms posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, I issued Executive Order 2020-33. This order expanded on Executive Order 2020-4 and declared both a state of emergency and a state of disaster across the state of Michigan under section 1 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Emergency Management Act, and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945.
The Emergency Management Act vests the governor with broad powers and duties to “cop[e] with dangers to this state or the people of this state presented by a disaster or emergency,” which the governor may implement through “executive orders, proclamations, and directives having the force and effect of law.” MCL 30.403(1)-(2). Similarly, the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 provides that, after declaring a state of emergency, “the governor may promulgate reasonable orders, rules, and regulations as he or she considers necessary to protect life and property or to bring the emergency situation within the affected area under control.” MCL 10.31(1).
To suppress the spread of COVID-19, protect this state’s critical health care resources from rapid depletion, and prevent needless deaths, it has been necessary for Michiganders to limit travel, gatherings, and in-person work and interactions as much as possible. This has required, among other things, establishments that serve the public to curtail their in-person operations significantly, to the substantial benefit of this state’s public health but to their own financial detriment. These restrictions on places of public accommodation first took effect on March 16, 2020, and have remained necessary and in place since.
The limitations required by this pandemic, and the economic harms caused by it, have hit restaurants and bars particularly hard. They have found themselves burdened with an unexpected surplus of inventory—particularly of alcohol—and struggling to remain open to provide their communities with needed sustenance during this crisis. To mitigate the harms from this pandemic and to help ensure that these establishments can continue to serve their communities both during and after it, it is reasonable and necessary to provide them with immediate financial assistance through a buyback program for spirits in their inventory as of March 16, 2020.
Acting under the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and Michigan law, I order the following:
Given under my hand and the Great Seal of the State of Michigan.