LANSING, Mich. – Michigan residents are now required to wear masks in public places, such as grocery stores, under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s revised stay-at-home order.
This new order only applies to people who can medically tolerate wearing a mask, officials said.
UPDATE -- April 23, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 35,291; Death toll now at 2,977
The previous order encouraged residents to wear face coverings in enclosed places to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but now that is a requirement, as of Friday.
Employers must provide non-medical grade masks to their in-person employees.
Whitmer’s stricter mask guidelines come with an extended stay-at-home order than loosened restrictions on some businesses.
The stay-at-home order has been extended through May 15. It was previously in effect through the end of April.
Whitmer has lifted restrictions so some businesses linked to outdoor activities, such as golf and motorized boating, can reopen.
The measure immediately replaces one that was scheduled to expire next week. Michigan has nearly 3,000 deaths related to COVID-19, behind only New York and New Jersey among U.S. states.
Landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops 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.
Whitmer said people with multiple in-state homes can resume traveling between them, though it is strongly discouraged.
“The vast majority of people in this state are doing the right things. We’ve seen the curve get pushed down,” the Democratic governor told The Associated Press. “I think it’s appropriate to reevaluate along the way. At this point we feel like’s good to have our first wave of reengagement in this way.”
The order continues to prohibit in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life, with exemptions for various critical jobs. Restaurants remain closed to dine-in customers under a separate measure, and bars, movie theaters, gyms and other sports facilities also are still shuttered.
The prior stay-home order — in tandem with guidance issued by Whitmer’s office — prompted lawsuits on behalf of anglers, landscaping companies, cottage owners and others. Republicans who control the Legislature also criticized it and plan to vote Friday to limit her emergency powers despite a certain veto. Conservative demonstrators held a large rally at the state Capitol last week, and a much smaller protest took place Thursday outside the governor’s residence in Lansing.
Whitmer defended the previous order, which she issued April 9 and was stricter than one that took effect March 24. Imposing some of the country’s toughest restrictions, she said, was necessary because of what were rapidly rising cases and deaths that threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
“Michigan’s COVID-19 experience was tougher than just about any other state,” said Whitmer, whose moves have been backed by health experts and in public polling.
Landscaping and more outdoor activities, she said, were “naturally parts of our economy that we could move forward on” now. While golfing is allowed, the use of carts is not. State parks will generally remain open and people already were allowed to run, walk, hike and ride bikes.
Whitmer said her administration is talking with medical and business experts to assess different jobs and industries for risk, to promulgate safety protocols and to determine “markers” that need to be reached before reopening additional sectors. She said more will be revealed on Monday.
The order does not explicitly address Detroit-area automakers’ ability to restart plants. It continues to list “transportation and logistics” and “critical manufacturing” as sectors where some employees can go to work. Talks continue between the Detroit Three and the United Auto Workers union.
“This is one of what will be many waves,” Whitmer said. “My hope is that we can contemplate the next one. But it all depends on if people observe these best practices, if we can keep the COVID-19 trajectory headed downward and if we can keep people safe.”
Full executive order
You can view the full revised stay-at-home order below.