What you can do and can't do under Michigan's stay-at-home order

Thirteen days after the first cases of coronavirus Covid-19 were confirmed in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an order that directs all non-critical businesses to temporarily close, and for all Michiganders to stay home or at least six feet away from others if they must leave the house during the outbreak.

The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 24 and will be in effect for at least the next three weeks.

This means Michigan's 10 million residents are asked to avoid all nonessential travel and remain at home. But this begs the question for many – what is considered “essential” travel?


Here are the exceptions to the order that Michiganders are still allowed to leave the house for:

  • Go to work if you are part of critical infrastructure workforce (details below)
  • Engage in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, running or cycling
  • Perform tasks necessary to your health and safety, like going to the hospital or grocery store
  • Care for a family member or family member’s pet in another household
  • Care for minors, dependents, the elderly, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable persons
  • Visit an individual under the care of a health care facility or residential care facility, as permitted by that facility
  • Attend legal proceedings or hearings for essential or emergency purposes
  • Volunteer for businesses or operations that provide food, shelter and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or for people with disabilities
  • Return home from outside of the state
  • Leave Michigan for a home or residence elsewhere
  • Travel between two residences in the state
  • And as required by law enforcement or court order, including the transportation of children pursuant to a custody agreement

If you do leave the house you must adhere to social distancing recommendations from the CDC, which includes staying at least six feet away from others outside of your individual household.

RELATED: Track Michigan coronavirus cases by county with this interactive map


Gov. Whitmer’s order designates the following as critical infrastructure workers, meaning they are permitted to leave the house to go to work:

  • Health care and public health workers
  • Law enforcement, public safety and first responders
  • Food and agriculture
  • Energy
  • Water and wastewater
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Public works
  • Trash pick-up and disposal
  • Communications and information technology, including news media
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Hazardous materials
  • Financial services
  • Chemical supply chains and safety
  • Defense industrial base

The following are also considered critical infrastructure, but may be scaled down by their business or operations to only those who are deemed necessary to conduct minimum basic operations: 

  • Child care workers, but only to the extent necessary to serve the children or dependents of other critical infrastructure workers
  • Workers at designated suppliers and distribution centers
  • Workers in the insurance industry, but only to the extent that their work can’t be done via phone or remotely
  • Workers and volunteers that provide food, shelter and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or for people with disabilities
  • Workers who perform critical labor union functions

In these situations, businesses and operations must determine which of their workers are necessary to conduct minimum basic operations and inform such workers of that designation. Businesses and operations must make such designations in writing, whether by electronic message, public website, or other appropriate means. Such designations, however, may be made orally until March 31, 2020 at 11:59 pm.

If you still aren’t sure if this order applies to your job or not, contact your supervisor or wait to hear from them for further instruction.


Gov. Whitmer’s order permits you to still leave the house to buy food and other supplies, but it also says you must secure supplies via delivery to the maximum extent possible.

“As needed, however, individuals may leave the home or place of residence to purchase groceries, take-out food, gasoline, needed medical supplies, and any other products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and basic operation of their residences,” the order states.

You can read the order in full here.