Attorney General's office: Stop calling consumer hotline about stay-at-home order

The Detroit News

Officials are urging residents not to call the Michigan Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline about the statewide stay-at-home order issued to curb the novel coronavirus.

The "overwhelming number of calls" including those to the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order have left the hotline "overwhelmed, literally bringing our system to a standstill," the Attorney General's Office said in a statement Tuesday.

Beverly Hills Penn Station East Coast Subs workers Jason Wiliams and Mia Zarka work in an empty dining room as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issues a "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order during a television appearance, Monday, March 23, 2020.   The Beverly Hills restaurant has seen a 50% drop in business they said.

"... Any complaints related to the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order should be directed to local law enforcement agencies — and we are counting on our partners in law enforcement to remind everyone that failing to comply with the Governor’s Executive Orders could result in a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail for each violation."

The wide-ranging order Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued on Monday is in effect until April 13 and broadly directs people "to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible."

It temporarily limits most businesses' operations, but those in some sectors can continue if they are critical to the state's infrastructure.

"Critical infrastructure workers" as stated in the order are defined as those in the fields of health care, law enforcement, public safety, food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, transportation, communications, other community-based government operations, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials, financial services, chemical supply chains and defense industrial base.

Michigan residents can buy groceries, go for jogs and pick up take-out meals from restaurants and medicine at pharmacies.

The order, which follows restrictions in other states, coincides with an uptick in COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, Michigan officials reported nearly 1,800 confirmed cases and 24 deaths.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team works to address unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices but now is targeting price-gouging and scams related to COVID-19.

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, the Attorney General’s Office had received 1,578 price-gouging complaints related to COVID-19, including 649 filed through the office’s Consumer Protection website and 929 taken by phone.  

A total of 97 were received by phone Monday out of 169 calls to the Consumer Protection tip line, the office said.

"All other violations of the Governor’s Executive Orders should be referred to local police departments for enforcement," state officials said Tuesday. "The Department of Attorney General stands ready to assist local prosecuting attorneys’ offices as these cases move forward."