Michigan governor extends stay-home order; local legislators have concerns
LANSING — Thursday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed executive order 2020-42, extending her prior “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through the end of April. As with the prior order, Executive Order 2020-42 limits gatherings and travel and requires all workers who are not necessary to sustain or protect life to stay home. Executive Order 2020-42 also imposes more stringent limitations on stores to reduce foot traffic, slow the spread of the coronavirus, and save lives, according to a news release from michigan.gov.
“Michigan has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’re still on the upswing. We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families,” said Whitmer. “Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. When we do, we can save lives and shorten the amount of time we’re working through this crisis, which will be good for our families and good for our economy in the long-run. We can also protect critical infrastructure workers like doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, and child care workers. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that people stay home and stay safe.”
Executive Order 2020-42 prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses and operations are to designate the workers who meet those criteria, and must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons in the performance of that in-person work.
Workers who are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers, and more. For a full list of these critical infrastructure workers, click the link to Executive Order 2020-42 at the bottom of this page. To enable these critical workers to get to their workplaces, automobile dealerships will now be allowed to open for remote sales, though showrooms must remain closed.
Under the new order, all public and private gatherings among persons outside a single household remain temporarily prohibited. Though Michiganders may leave the house to get groceries or needed supplies, the new order encourages people to limit the number of household members running errands to the maximum extent possible. As before, people may engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, kayaking, canoeing, or any other recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside a person’s household and with other restrictions imposed by prior executive orders. The order clarifies, however, that travel for vacations or for any other purpose is prohibited.
A new section of the order imposes restrictions on stores in an effort to reduce crowds. Large stores must limit the number of people in the store at one time to no more than 4 customers for every 1,000 square feet of customer floor space; small stores must limit capacity to 25% of the total occupancy limits (including employees) under the fire codes. To regulate entry, stores must establish lines with markings for patrons to enable them to stand at least six feet apart from one another while waiting. Large stores must also close areas of the store that are dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint.
“This doesn’t mean everything will go back to normal on May 1,” Whitmer continued. “But based on the data we have right now, this is the appropriate window for an extension. It will take time to safely and responsibly re-open the economy, which is why we will continue to provide critical unemployment support and assistance to our small businesses during this challenging time. We will get through this if we all continue to do our part.”
All individuals who leave their home or place of residence must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household.
Not all Michigan officials are happy with the extension and/or additions to the order.
Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, who serves most of Monroe and Lenawee counties, was among them. He issued the following statement in a news release:
“I am shocked and deeply disturbed about the severe restrictions on people’s freedoms and lives included in the governor’s extended stay-at-home order, even on those in communities with little or no cases of COVID-19.
“Michigan families have done a great job adjusting to life during this extraordinary time, and they deserve to be able to return to their normal lives safely and with proper precautions. Instead, on the Thursday before Easter, the governor continued bans on family gatherings of any size.
“I hope the governor will consider revisions to allow Michigan workers in low-infection areas to get back to work if their employer implements strict health and safety measures to protect their employees and the public.
“Although I appreciate the governor heeding my advice to allow dealerships to continue sales and leasing online and allowing delivery directly to homes, I am greatly disappointed that the governor’s extended stay-at-home order does not allow more Michigan workers in low-risk or low-contact jobs to return to work to support their families.”
Rep. Bronna Kahle, who serves Lenawee County, urged the governor to reconsider some aspects of her new expanded COVID-19 “stay-at-home” order – saying changes could be made to continue protecting public health without forcing even more Michiganders out of work.
“I will continue working with the governor because I agree we must do all we can to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of our families, friends and neighbors in Lenawee County and the entire state. But I am concerned some of the items included in the governor’s new order will prolong hardships on residents without helping fulfill that mission,” Kahle said in a news release.
“There are ways we can safely restart parts of the economy while keeping people safe from coronavirus,” Kahle said. “A good start would be looking at jobs and activities through the lens of ‘safe or unsafe’ rather than bogging down in debates about ‘essential vs. non-essential.’ Lenawee residents are counting on us to make decisions that protect public health and also move us toward a return to normalcy and better days ahead. These goals are not mutually exclusive.”