How long will Michigan’s COVID-19 state of emergency last?

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Anticipating the reopening of Michigan’s economy, everyone has the same questions: when and what will it look like?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told News 8 Tuesday afternoon that it’s too early to know.

One thing she is certain about is that the state of emergency for Michigan must be extended.

That emergency is separate from the governor’s stay-at-home order, which told residents not to leave their houses, shut down many businesses and ordered safety restrictions for others. The state of emergency, in comparison, is a declaration that gives the government power to take unusual actions.

The state Legislature has already extended the state of emergency once — to April 30 — and is likely to do so again. But during a Monday briefing, Whitmer indicated she could do it with or without lawmakers.

There are two separate statutes that deal with state of emergency. One stipulates that the Legislature weigh in. The other that is silent on the matter.

“This extension of an emergency order I think is really important,” Whitmer told News 8. “It’s what gives our front-line medical personnel the kind of protections that they need to keep doing their work. Even the Republican suggestions about how we might safely reengage our economy contemplate an extension of the emergency order. And so I’m confident that they will see the wisdom in doing that and I welcome their partnership. But I also know that we’re going to continue to do what we believe the science and the safety of our citizens requires. And trust me, nobody is more eager to open up the economy than I am, but we have to be really thoughtful about what that looks like so we don’t have that second wave (of infections).”

When asked for clarification that she believes she has the authority to extend an emergency order unilaterally, she replied, “Yes.”

The plans for the future discussed by the Senate majority leader, the Speaker of the House, both Republicans, and the Democratic governor appear to be very similar. All would extend the state of emergency and start gradually reopening the economy, likely with different rules regionally. There also seems to be agreement that while everyone wants companies to reopen, it will not be business as usual. Further details about what reopening look like may be released later this week.

It also remains to be seen how long the state of emergency will be extended.