LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced another extension on her stay-at-home order Friday during a press conference. The new order will extend until May 15 but lifts restrictions on businesses and traveling.
Among the restrictions that will be lifted are landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries, and bike repair shops that can resume operating, subject to social-distancing rules. Stores selling nonessential supplies can reopen for curbside pickup and delivery. Big-box retailers no longer have to close off garden centers and areas dedicated to selling paint, flooring, and carpet.
Additionally, the new order requires people to wear some sort of face covering when they enter enclosed public spaces.
Along with participating in outdoor activities like golfing (but no golf carts) and motorized boating, the governor also said people with multiple in-state homes can resume traveling between them, though it's strongly discouraged.
"The vast majority of people in this state are doing the right things. We've seen the curve get pushed down," Whitmer said. "I think it's appropriate to reevaluate along the way. At this point we feel like's good to have our first wave of re-engagement in this way."
Employers are also now required to provide a cloth face covering to their employees who leave home for work.
Despite the facemask requirement in enclosed public spaces, people won't have to wear face coverings when they're taking a walk but are still recommended to do so.
“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,” said 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.”
Following her first extension on the order, which was scheduled to end April 30, Whitmer became a magnet of local and national criticism that jettisoned the governor into the national spotlight. Residents have expressed their displeasure through protests in front of the capitol building and the governor's mansion while local GOP officials have sought to strip the governor of her emergency powers entirely.
The governor has even had verbal entanglements with President Donald Trump who followed up prepared guidelines for reopening states with a call to "LIBERATE MICHIGAN" last week. In a statewide poll of 600 Michigan residents, Whitmer maintained a 57%-37% approval rating for her actions. Meanwhile, half of the surveyed residents disapproved of the president's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the same day as Whitmer's announcement, GOP lawmakers are expected to vote on their legislation that would repeal that Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945. Whitmer has promised a veto of any bill that would take away her power.
The orders mimic similar restrictions in place in nearby states. More than a week ago, the governor announced plans to partner with other states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Indiana and coordinate reopening the region's economy.
Despite three straight days of higher daily totals of new COVID-19 cases, public officials are confident that social distancing, the CDC and state-recommended guidelines behind many of the governor's executive orders. She's shuttered schools, closed businesses, and restricted travel between residences, drawing the ire of many. However, amid Michigan's downturn of new cases, the state and City of Detroit has expanded who is eligible for a test while hospitals have reported a decline in new admissions.
As the state sits in the limbo of self-quarantine, lawmakers have begun planning for the state's economic reopening. Facing immense pressure from a state unemployment rate among the highest in the nation, GOP politicians have been especially eager to start reopening the economy.
Both the House and Senate have released roadmaps that rebuke a blanket order like the one Whitmer has enforced for a more localized plan. A roadmap released four days would divide counties by a tier system, depending on the level of risk a municipality faces.
The governor is expected to release her own version of an economic reopening plan next week.
Michigan, especially Detroit and surrounding communities, has been one of the hardest-hit states. Since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the state on March 10, tens of thousands more have become infected and hundreds have died.
Schools have been closed now for the remainder of the year and Gov. Whitmer's statewide stay-at-home order has been extended through the end of April.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
Are you showing symptoms? Try Beaumont's virtual screening tool
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.
The Associated Press contributed to this report