LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order until June 12 and the state of emergency until June 19.
The stay-at-home order continues the closure of public places such as theaters, gyms and casinos to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Both executive orders were previously set to expire after May 28.
The Michigan Court of Claims ruled Thursday that Whitmer has the authority to keep the state under a state of emergency without legislative approval. Republican legislators sued Whitmer after she extended the state of emergency and stay-at-home orders without their approval.
Friday’s announcement comes on the day when restaurants, bars and retail are allowed to reopen at 50% capacity in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula.
“While the data shows that we are making progress, we are not out of the woods yet," Whitmer said. "If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbors and loved ones from the spread of this virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home. If we open too soon, thousands more could die and our hospitals will get overwhelmed. While we ﬁnally have more protective equipment like masks, we can’t run the risk of running low again. We owe it to the real heroes on the front lines of this crisis -- our first responders, health care workers, and critical workers putting their lives on the line every day -- to do what we can ourselves to stop the spread of the virus.”
Whitmer also extended previous executive orders, including those protecting workers who stay home when they or close contacts are sick and restoring water service to residents whose water has been shut off.
“All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again,” Whitmer said. "We’ve already loosened some restrictions on construction, manufacturing, landscaping, retail and more. But the worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we’ve made.”
Loosened restrictions statewide
Whitmer announced Thursday that she is partially reopening businesses and lifting medical restrictions across the entire state.
She is also allowing Michiganders to gather in groups of up to 10 people, as the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to slow across the state.
Whitmer said retail businesses can reopen, as well as auto dealerships by appointment, on Tuesday.
Retail businesses that reopen can have up to 10 customers inside at any time, Whitmer said.
“The data shows that Michigan is ready to phase in these sectors of our economy, but we must stay vigilant and ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “On behalf of our brave first responders on the front lines of this crisis, we must continue to all do our part by staying safer at home. We owe it to them to do what we can to stop the spread of this virus.”
Businesses with in-person interaction have to implement rules to protect workers, such as training them on infection control practices and the proper use of personal protective equipment.
Whitmer also lifted the restrictions on health care providers who had to delay some nonessential medical, dental and veterinary procedures.
Those procedures can resume Friday, May 29.
“I know that as medical professionals begin offering nonessential procedures again, they will do everything in their power to protect patients and their families from COVID-19," Khaldun said. "I will continue to work with Gov. Whitmer and our partners across Michigan to protect our families and lower the chance of a second wave.”
Northern Michigan restrictions loosened
Whitmer announced bars, restaurants and retail could partially reopen in 32 counties on Friday. That executive order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
“This is a big step, but we must all remember to continue doing our part to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. "It’s crucial that all businesses do everything in their power to protect their workers, customers, and their families. And as we approach Memorial Day weekend, I encourage everyone to be smart and be safe. My team and I will continue to work around the clock to protect the people of Michigan.”
Whitmer said the entire Upper Peninsula, which is designated as region eight in her “MI Safe Start” plan, is included in this order. The other region, known as region six, is the northernmost part of the Lower Peninsula.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the Chief Deputy for Health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the state’s chief medical executive, said these locations were chosen because of their recent trends.
“The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,” Khaldun said. “It’s important to note that these businesses must take special precautions to protect Michiganders. I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a six-foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often. This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state.”
Restaurants and bars will be allowed to open at 50% capacity, and all servers must wear masks, Whitmer said.
Individual groups of people at bars and restaurants will have to be separated by at least six feet.
Only office workers whose jobs cannot be done remotely can return to work, Whitmer said.
Retail business will also be allowed to reopen, but companies must provide personal protective equipment to workers, keep everyone six feet apart and ensure employees understand how to safely maneuver in this environment.
Cities, villages and townships can choose to enforce more cautious rules if they wish. They can even limit bars and restaurants to outdoor seating, if they choose.