Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the state’s order to stay at home until May 15, while lifting some restrictions on outdoor activities and work, she said at a press conference Friday morning. (You can watch a replay of the video from her address, or scroll down to read our answers to the essential questions you have about the most recent changes.)
Michiganders have been ordered to stay in their homes except for essential work and activities since March 24 as part of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. With more than 1 million residents filing for unemployment, Whitmer has faced pressure to begin reopening the state economy, but she reiterated Friday that protecting residents’ health comes first.
“My only focus is on saving lives in Michigan,” she said. “Every unnecessary trip out of the house, every unnecessary close contact with another person, threatens to continue spreading COVID-19.”
As of Thursday, April 23, more than 35,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus. Nearly 3,000 have died.
Friday’s order, which replaces rules that were set to expire May 1, also details which lower-risk activities will now be permitted, including some loosening of restrictions for businesses. It goes into effect immediately, except for a couple special cases.
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL BREAKDOWN OF WHAT IS AND ISN’T ALLOWED UNDER THE NEW STATE ORDER
“We will consider this preliminary stage of economic re-engagement,” Whitmer said. “We will make informed decisions in the coming days about potential further economic re-engagement, but it depends on you. We may have to be nimble enough to go backward, on occasion. My fervent hope is that people still take this incredibly seriously.”
Michigan performed 7,400 tests on April 22, the highest number of tests performed in a single day so far. The state’s goal is to conduct 15,000 tests per day. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief deputy director for Health and Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the state will be closely monitoring infection rate and hospitalization data and adjusting accordingly.
A Republican-led bicameral committee is convening today to look into Whitmer’s response, and lawmakers could introduce a bill limiting the governor’s emergency powers.
Whitmer said she finds it “odd” that legislators have chosen to congregate in Lansing, adding that she hoped they would spend their energy focusing on access to health care and paid sick leave for those who have lost their jobs.
“I’m not going to sign any bill that takes authority away from me, or from any future governor,” she said. “The powers of the executive office are incredibly important, especially in times of crisis where lives are on the line.”
Here are all the details on what’s new, what restrictions are still in place and what you’re allowed to do under the executive order.
HOW LONG IS THE ORDER EXTENDED? Michigan’s stay-at-home order has been extended to May 28 at this time. The governor has introduced a six-phase plan for reopening the economy called MI Safe Start. Michigan is currently in Phase 3.
IS THE STATE MONITORING TRAVELERS FROM OUT-OF-STATE? Yes. According to this doc updated May 4: “The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services receives daily referrals about travelers from the CDC airport quarantine stations. Once MDHHS receives the referral, the information is provided to the local health department in the community where the traveler lives. Local health department staff contact the individual, assess their risk and may supervise daily for health monitoring for 14 days after their last day of exposure.”
CAN I SHOP AT A NONESSENTIAL BUSINESS? Retailers that do not sell necessary supplies to open for curbside pickup or for delivery. So by all means, place an order for pickup at your favorite clothing boutique or independent bookseller, if they choose to reopen for business!
WHAT ABOUT MY SEEDS? CAN I FINALLY GET GARDEN SUPPLIES? Yes. Garden stores and nurseries can re-open. And big-box stores can reopen “closed areas,” like garden centers and paint areas. But some local farms, like Detroit Abloom, already got creative and started selling plant starts — lettuces, tomatoes, herbs — online. If you choose to shop in person, remember to maintain six feet from other shoppers and wear a cloth face mask while picking up supplies. And there are still restrictions on the number of customers allowed in stores at one time.
CAN I HIRE A LANDSCAPER OR DO LANDSCAPING? Landscapers, lawn-service companies and nurseries can return to work, subject to strict social distancing guidelines. Workers should have personal protection equipment that they need — like gloves, goggles and masks — as appropriate. And anyone using shared tools or machinery should make sure to properly sanitize equipment between uses.
MY HAIR LOOKS TERRIBLE. CAN I GET A HAIRCUT? Not yet. And probably not for a while. It’s not yet clear when barbers and salons will reopen under the governor’s MI SAFE Start plan. But feel free to purchase hair care supplies to support your local salon if they are open for curbside pickup or delivery.
CAN I GO GOLFING? In a new change, golf has been identified as a low-risk public health activity. Golf courses can reopen; however, golf carts are not permitted. Mad respect if you decide to carry your bags, clubs and brewskies on your own!
CAN I GO BOATING? Yes, the avid boaters win this round. In previous executive orders, only non-motorized crafts — sailboats, canoes, kayaks — were allowed out into our lakes. But now, motorboats can be launched, too. If you are using a public boat launch, remember to stay six feet away from others and to avoid touching docks, lifts or other stationary equipment.
CAN I GO TO THE BIKE SHOP? Bike repair is now an allowed service. However, you can’t browse for a sweet new ride while your bike is being fixed. Shops can only sell you a bike if you order in advance for curbside pickup.
CAN MY PET GET VACCINATIONS? Veterinary clinics will update your pets’ vaccinations if they’re due for rabies or Leptospirosis, two pet diseases that threaten human health. But once you’re there, other vaccinations can be filled, one vet told us.
SHOULD I BE WORRIED ABOUT MY PET GETTING CORONAVIRUS? Probably not. If your dog or cat does get it, it’s likely to be mild. And while you can give it to them, your pet most likely cannot give it to you.
CAN I GO TO A FUNERAL? Yes. But no more than 10 people may be present at one time. It’s a tragedy of these times that we can’t say our final goodbyes to our loved ones with a ceremony and gathering to celebrate their life. But some families are coordinating with each other to create a schedule for saying final goodbyes. People gather in the parking lot and wave to each other through windows and then enter the church or funeral home in small, scheduled groups.
CAN I GO TO AN AA MEETING? Yes, but no more than 10 people may be present. Remember to call your sponsor.
WILL MY RESTRAINING ORDER EXPIRE? No. On April 27, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-63 which temporarily extends the validity of personal protective orders during the coronavirus pandemic, coinciding with a Michigan Supreme Court administrative order extending that does the same until 90 days after Michigan’s emergency declaration is lifted.
CAN I GO TO A WEDDING? No. The executive order specifically stated funerals and addiction-recovery meetings are allowed reasons to leave the house. But it didn’t make any such exemption for weddings — even if only ten of your nearest and dearest are present.
CAN I GO OUTSIDE? Yes. Take a walk. A run. A hike. Anything where you keep your distance from friends or competitors — so no pickup basketball games. And keep your kids off playground equipment, which could host and spread germs. Remember: Stay back six feet, and wear a mask if you feel like you could possibly infect somebody else!
CAN I GO HANG OUT AT MY FRIEND’S HOUSE? Nope! You can drop something off on their porch if it’s essential, or go care for a sick family member or pet, but otherwise, you can’t go inside someone else’s home. The whole idea of social distancing is distance. Zoom your people instead. You’re also still allowed to get your necessary recreation in near-ish other people, as long as you’re staying six feet apart.
CAN I MOVE? Yes, you’re allowed to move to a new home or rental.
CAN I GO TO MY SECOND HOME? Michiganders may now travel between their own residences, but Whitmer still strongly discouraged people from doing so. She also said rural areas of Michigan are unprepared to deal with an influx of COVID-19 cases. So if you are heading to a rural area or second home in Michigan, try to avoid visiting the local grocery store or engaging with other people — do your part to slow the spread.
CAN I RENT OUT MY SECOND HOME? To someone as their primary residence? Yes. But not on a short-term basis to vacationers. The only exception to that rule is if you are renting it to healthcare professionals or volunteers who need a place to stay while they are in Michigan fighting the virus.
CAN I VISIT A STATE PARK? Michigan’s state parks will remain open, as they have been throughout the emergency. Make sure to stay at least six feet away from others and to properly and carefully dispose of any trash.
HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN BE IN MY STORE? If you are one of the businesses allowed to be open, there are still restrictions. If your store is less than 50,000 square feet, you can only have 25% of your normal capacity limit. If your store is more than 50,000 square feet, only four people per 1,000 square feet can be inside. And, you have to have two hours set aside each week for at-risk populations — seniors, pregnant women, etc. — to shop.
DO I HAVE TO WEAR A MASK? Yes, in most circumstances, when you’re in public. Beginning Monday, April 26, anyone who can “medically tolerate” a face covering must wear one when they’re in an enclosed public space. This is a stronger version of recommendations from local, state and federal health officials, who have since early April encouraged all people to wear masks when they’re in public, especially in areas like Detroit with rapid community transmission.
WHAT ABOUT WHEN I’M ON MY DAILY SOCIAL DISTANCING WALK? Well, the order doesn’t require you to wear a mask when you’re outside, but “you should consider it anyway,” Whitmer said. Remember, though, that wearing a mask isn’t a replacement for keeping six feet of distance from other people, even while you’re outside. You also still need to refrain from touching your face (or the mask itself!) and wash your hands regularly. If you’re running, consider running solo and only in places where you can maintain a social distance of six feet from others,
CAN A BUSINESS REFUSE TO SERVE ME IF I’M NOT WEARING A MASK? Yes. Businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone who is not wearing a cloth face mask.
DO I HAVE TO PROVIDE MASKS TO MY EMPLOYEES? Yes, starting Monday. Businesses that are able to operate under the new orders must provide cloth masks (save the N95s for healthcare workers and first responders!) to all employees, and other necessary PPE such as gloves, goggles, and face shields, “as appropriate for the activity being performed.
WHERE CAN I GET A MASK? Make your own face covering or buy a cloth mask. Some Detroit grocery stores are distributing masks, and they are also available on some Detroit buses. Want something fashionable? Rosemarine Textiles is selling naturally dyed, organic cloth masks for $13.
HOW DO I REPORT A BUSINESS THAT IS BREAKING THE RULES? You can report scofflaws online at www.michigan.gov/agcomplaints or by calling (877) 765-8388. You can also make a report to the Detroit Police Department at (313) 267-4600.
CAN I GET MY DOG GROOMED? Your dog’s nails are long and her coat is matted. But you will most likely need to deal with it yourself for now. Unless the services provided by your groomer are necessary to keep you or your pet safe and healthy, it’s a no-go. Want to try grooming her yourself? There’s a YouTube Channel for that.
CAN I GET MY CAR WASHED? Full-service washes are not yet permitted to open, according to the FAQ on the current executive order. Automatic car washes that can be operated without staff are permitted.
CAN I GET A TEST? If you’re having symptoms (cough, fever or difficulty breathing), you’re encouraged to seek out a test. In Detroit, anyone with a prescription can get an appointment for testing at the State Fairgrounds site, and there are resources available if you don’t have a doctor or transportation — more info here. Essential workers in Detroit don’t even need a prescription to get tested, but their employer must first call the city at (313)-230-0505 on their behalf. This state website details other testing locations.
HOW MANY PEOPLE IN MICHIGAN ARE UNEMPLOYED? 1,178,021 Michiganders have filed for unemployment since March 15, with 134,119 workers filing claims since the week of April 17. Despite an overwhelming amount of claims, the state of Michigan’s unemployment insurance agency says that it has dispersed 1.37 billion in aid to residents so far.
HOW DO I FILE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT OR GET HELP WITH MY APPLICATION? The fastest and easiest way to file and certify a claim is online at Michigan.gov/UIA where it takes around 25 minutes. More than 90% of all claims are filed and certified on the 24-hour website, according to the UIA. Customers are urged to use the site to certify their claims during off-peak hours between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. For anyone having difficulty with their account, the UIA Call Center is available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Call 866-500-0017 to speak with a UIA representative. Customers in the call center and online chat queues before closing time will have their calls or chats resolved that day.
HOW ELSE AM I AFFECTED? We’re continuing to look into how these changes will be carried out and have our eyes out for any new problems that arise. Do you have a lingering question that our FAQ hasn’t answered? Ask it in Detour’s Facebook group and one of our reporters will help you get it answered. Join the group for more help navigating Detroit and Michigan life during an epidemic, with news, fact checks, discussion, tips and commiseration (and cute pet pics, too).
For more FAQs on the executive order 2020-59, go here.
Reporting by Nina Misuraca Ignaczak, Amy Haimerl, Kate Abbey-Lambertz and Ashley Woods Branch.