Whitmer Extends Stay-Home Order Through May 15, Eases Restrictions, Adds Mask Rule

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By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended her "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order through May 15, while relaxing restrictions so some businesses can reopen and the public can participate in more outdoor activities like golf and motorized boating.

There is also a new rule regarding masks. 

The new executive order, issued Friday morning, immediately replaces the one that was scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. April 30.

This means some restrictions will be lifted right away.

WHAT'S NEW IN THE ORDER:

  • People are now required to face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as grocery stores if they can medically tolerate it.
  • Big-box retailers no longer have to close off garden centers and areas dedicated to selling paint or carpet.
  • Landscapers, lawn-service companies, greenhouses and bike repair shops can resume operating, subject to social-distancing rules.
  • Golf and motorized boating will be permitted.

Executive Order 2020-59, like two previous versions of the stay-home order, is designed to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 3,000 people and infected more than 36,000 people in the state. 

While Whitmer said this is a "step forward," she said she will continue to work with business leaders on plans to further reengage the state's economy.

[READ THE FULL EXECUTIVE ORDER]

"Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. Social distancing is our best weapon to defeat this enemy,” said Gov. Whitmer. “With new COVID-19 cases leveling off, however, we are lifting some of the restrictions put in place in the previous order. I want to be crystal clear: the overarching message today is still the same. We must all do our part by staying home and staying safe as much as possible.” 

All essential businesses — including grocery, pharmacy, child care and medical facilities — that were allowed to operate under previous various of the order will remain open. 

MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE ORDER:

On masks: The order will require people to wear homemade, non-medical grade face coverings when they enter enclosed public spaces. It will also require employers to provide at least cloth face coverings to their employees. People won’t have to wear face coverings when they’re taking a walk in the neighborhood, but when they go to the grocery store, they should be wearing one. Under the order, however, no one will be subject to criminal penalty for going without a mask. Bandanas, scarfs or homemade masks are all OK. The public is asked to reserve N95 masks for medical professionals who need them.

On landscaping: The new executive order will also allow some workers who perform very previously suspended activities to go back on the job. Landscapers, lawn-service companies, and nurseries can return to work, subject to the following strict social distancing guidelines:

  • Gatherings of any size in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another are not permitted.
  • Limiting in-person interaction with clients and patrons to the maximum extent possible, and barring any such interaction in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.
  • Providing personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields, and face masks as appropriate for the activity being performed.
  • Adopting protocols to limit the sharing of tools and equipment to the maximum extent possible and to ensure frequent and thorough cleaning of tools, equipment, and frequently touched surfaces.

On garden centers/greenhouses: All garden supply retailers, including those that do not sell necessary supplies, may reopen for curbside pick-up and for delivery. Big box stores can reopen “closed areas,” such garden centers and paint supplies, which were previously closed under the previous order.

On recreation: The order eases up on some restrictions on members of the public. It will, for example, allow motorized boating and golf (but no golf carts), consistent with "sound social distancing." It also permits individuals to travel between their residences, though such travel during the epidemic is strongly discouraged. The order also clarifies that state parks remain open, as they have been throughout the emergency. Bike repair and maintenance is also now permitted.

The governor stressed that what Michiganders have been doing so far to slow the spread of the virus is making a difference.

"The thing about public health is that you never know how many lives you've saved," Whitmer said. But we "know it's working, "she said, and "we are flattening the curve." 

All of these decisions were made with the help of medical experts, including epidemiologists, who study pandemics.

“The numbers we’ve seen in the past week have shown a plateau in positive cases, but Michiganders must continue doing their part to fight this virus and protect their families,” MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “The governor has taken a number of critical steps to protect Michigan families, and this order today will allow that work to continue. We will keep monitoring the data closely and work with our partners across state government to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” 

The governor’s office noted that actions Friday are in close alignment with other Midwest states.

On April 16, Whitmer announced that she and Governors Mike DeWine (OH), Tony Evers (WI), Tim Walz (MN), JB Pritzker (IL), Eric Holcomb (IN), and Andy Beshear (KY) will work in close coordination to reopen the economy in the Midwest region. The governor is committed to continuing to work closely with other governors to protect families and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.