Michigan stay-at-home order timeline: 70 days, 4 extensions, ever-changing restrictions

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued stay-at-home order March 23, lifted it June 1

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Uncredited)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order was lifted Monday after 70 days. She issued the initial restrictions during the early stages of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and adjusted them several times along the way.

Here’s a look at the complete timeline for Michigan’s stay-at-home order.

March 23: First stay-at-home order issued

Whitmer announced the stay-at-home order March 23, saying Michiganders should only leave their homes to perform essential jobs or go to the grocery store or hospital.

Most public spaces in the state had already been closed for a week, and restaurants had been limited to carry-out and delivery since March 16.

Under the new order, people could go outside to walk, but they had to maintain six feet of distance from others. Gathering with people who lived in another household was not allowed.

“I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary,” Whitmer said at the time. "If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home, we can stay safe and save lives.”

The stay-at-home order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. March 24.

More from March 23:

March 24: Stay-at-home order begins

The stay-at-home order started March 24 and was scheduled to last at least three weeks. That would have meant reopening Michigan April 14 at the earliest.

On the day the stay-at-home order began, Michigan officials had confirmed 1,232 cases of the coronavirus and 15 COVID-19 related deaths.

More from March 24:

April 9: First stay-at-home order extension

The number of coronavirus cases in Michigan continued to rise in early April, and in response, Whitmer extended her initial order through the end of the following month.

While maintaining the previous restrictions, this extension also prohibited any kind of travel and put limits on how many people could be inside essential stores at a time.

“Large stores must limit the number of people in the store at one time to no more than four customers for every 1,000 square feet of customer floor space,” the order said. “Small stores must limit capacity to 25% of the total occupancy limits (including employees) under the fire codes.”

Whitmer’s extension kept the stay-at-home order in effect until May 1.

Michigan confirmed 21,504 cases of COVID-19 and 1,076 deaths that day.

More from April 9:

April 24: Second extension loosens restrictions

A week before the stay-at-home order was set to expire, Whitmer extended it for a second time. It was now in effect through May 15.

About an hour after this extension, Michigan officials announced 1,350 new daily coronavirus cases and 108 additional deaths.

Whitmer’s new order came with some concessions. Businesses linked to outdoor activities, such as golf and motorized boating, were allowed to reopen.

Landscaping, which had been a topic of debate throughout Michigan, was allowed to resume. Restrictions on plant nurseries, bike repair shops, stores selling nonessential supplies and garden centers were loosened.

This is also when wearing masks became a requirement for all residents in public spaces.

More from April 24:

May 7: Controversial third extension

When Whitmer extended her stay-at-home order for a third time, it was met with mixed reactions. Some residents were still afraid of what reopening could mean for the spread of COVID-19, but many were frustrated that the economy was still shut down.

This extended the stay-at-home order until May 28.

Whitmer announced manufacturing workers, including at Michigan’s Big 3 auto companies, could resume work May 11 as part of her “MI Safe Start Plan.” This was intended to give the struggling economy a much-needed boost.

The MI Safe Start Plan would become the guideline for Whitmer’s decisions going forward. It outlined six phases of reopening, concluding with the state going back to normal.

Republican legislators, who were already planning to sue Whitmer for extending the state of emergency without their approval, heavily opposed the extension of the stay-at-home order.

Meanwhile, the state reported 592 new confirmed cases and 93 additional deaths that afternoon.

More from May 7-8:

May 22: Memorial Day weekend extension

Just before 5:30 p.m. the Friday leading into Memorial Day weekend, Whitmer once again extended the stay-at-home order, this time until June 12.

She also extended the state of emergency at the same time, doing so through June 19.

This extension was discouraging for many Michigan residents because two regions outlined in the MI Safe Start Plan -- the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City Region -- had been reopened earlier in the week. In fact, May 22 was the first day restaurants and bars were allowed to resume operations at 50% capacity in Northern Michigan.

Whitmer’s extension came at the end of a busy week. In addition to reopening the two northernmost regions of the state, she partially reopened businesses and lifted restrictions on medical operations across Michigan.

Whitmer allowed Michiganders to gather in groups of 10, effective immediately.

She also scored a victory over Republicans when the Michigan Court of Claims ruled she could continue the state of emergency without legislative approval.

Thousands of Michiganders in the center of the state were also evacuated by devastating floods on May 20, after the Edenville and Sanford dams failed.

More from May 22:

June 1: Stay-at-home order lifted

The rest of the state joined the northern regions Monday (June 1), when Whitmer lifted the stay-at-home order and moved everyone to phase four of her reopening plan.

Restaurants and retail businesses are allowed to resume under safety restrictions. People can gather outside in groups of up to 100 people. Outdoor fitness classes and athletic events are allowed, as long as social distancing practices are followed.

“What you’ll see (in the executive order) is a list (of businesses that) cannot reopen, and that’s precisely what we’re trying to do here,” Whitmer said. “Before we have said the mass majority need to stay home except for a handful of exceptions. We’ve grown at this point we’re saying, ‘You can return to some more normal life unless you are in this particular part of the economy.’ So we’re trying to flip our mindset here.”

Many of the updated guidelines, including restaurants opening at 50% capacity, go into effect June 8, as Whitmer loosens restrictions in phases.

Her list of businesses that remain closed includes amusement parks, arcades, bowling alleys, fitness centers, gyms, hair salons, nail salons and tattoo parlors.

More from June 1:

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.