Whitmer clarifies essential order: 'if businesses are not sure if they're life-sustaining, assume they are not'

On Monday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered non-essential businesses to close. Now she's clarifying that if there's any question, businesses should assume they should close and she's threatening they could face steep fines and lose their license.

During an address on Thursday, Gov. Whitmer said the vast majority of businesses are doing the right thing. However, she knows there are some that are not adhering to the order. She said some businesses that are violating the order could risk losing their licenses and fines.

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

By staying open, businesses are putting their employees at risk and increasing pressure on the already strained healthcare system.

"I would encourage any business that is not sure if they're life-sustaining, to probably assume that they are not," Whitmer said.

She also encouraged businesses not to play fast and loose with the rules and said, for the most part, people are.

RELATED: Jobs considered essential during Michigan's stay-home order

Whitmer said they received several calls from people across the state who work for companies that they don't think are essential. She did not provide exact numbers but said her office is monitoring it and taking it very seriously.

"This is a public health crisis that we have. The more porous the policy, the longer we're going to be doing this, the more people are going to die and the more likely are healthcare system cannot meet the needs of people," Whitmer said.

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

She said it's not just COVID-19 patients but also people who suffer heart attacks or are pregnant. Those people also need medical help 

"If that hospital is overtaxed and has too few beds and has too few masks, that jeopardizes your health," Whitmer said. "Every one of us has a huge stake in us being able to do this and that's why anyone who is not a life-sustaining essential business should not be exposing their employees or their business to that."

Interactive: coronavirus in Michigan - where coronavirus is and who is most at risk

She also said that the 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' order does not mean you should have people at your house. She said the order means staying home with your family.

"This order is not optional and it's not a recommendation. It doesn't mean inviting 10 of your closest friends over for dinner or hosting a party at your house. It means staying home with the people with whom you live. It means when you do need to run to the grocery store or to the pharmacy, that you observe the 6-foot distance between others so you can keep yourself safe and others," Whitmer said. "If we don't all do our part, more people are going to get sick and more people are going to die."

RELATED: Social distancing: What to do and what not to do to slow the spread of COVID-19

She called her order aggressive to keep the most people we can safe in Michigan and said it was the most aggressive of any state in the country but depends on everyone doing their part.

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. 

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.


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