Gov. Whitmer explains: 'I'm taking action to protect Michigan families'

Gretchen Whitmer

I’ve made some tough choices in the past couple of months to protect as many people as possible from the spread of COVID-19. As hard as this is right now, a second wave would be devastating for Michigan’s economy. That’s why I’m extending the Stay Home, Stay Safe Order to May 15 to further protect Michigan families from the spread of this virus, and to ensure that when people leave the house, they’re being safe. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Data shows that most Michigan residents are doing their part by staying home. That’s good, but we must keep it up. The new order I signed enhances requirements for face coverings for people who go out in public. Michigan residents must wear a covering over their nose and mouth, like a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief, when in an enclosed public space. Under the order, however, no one will be subject to criminal penalty for going without a mask.

These masks should be homemade, non-medical grade. For now, N95 masks and surgical masks should be reserved for health care professionals, first responders like police officers, firefighters and paramedics and other critical workers.

All businesses must provide non-medical-grade face coverings to their employees to strengthen workplace safety and protect consumers.

The new executive order will allow some workers who perform previously suspended activities to go back on the job. Landscapers, lawn-service companies, greenhouses and nurseries may return to work, subject to strict social distancing. That means limiting in-person contact with clients and providing PPE like gloves, goggles, face shields and face masks as appropriate.

The new order permits retailers that do not sell necessary supplies to reopen for curbside pickup and for delivery. It lifts the “closed areas,” like garden centers, in large stores. And it allows bike repair shops to reopen.

The order will also ease up on some restrictions on outdoor recreation and travel. It will, for example, allow motorized boating and golf, consistent with sound social distancing. It will permit individuals to travel between their residences — though I still strongly discourage people from traveling unless absolutely necessary. And it will clarify that state parks will remain open, as they have been throughout the emergency. Remember, if you choose to go to the golf course, take the boat out, or operate your lawn care service, stay safe and do everything you can to protect yourself and others.

I know there has been a lot of discussion on the stay-home orders. But the data shows they have been working, and at this time we feel confident enough that we can make these adjustments. We all must do our part by staying home and staying safe as much as possible. That is our best weapon to defeat this enemy. Every unnecessary trip out of the house, and any unnecessary close contact with people could help spread the virus.

I'm taking this action based on facts, data and recommendations from health care experts. As we test more Michigan residents, a smaller percentage are testing positive for COVID-19. The number of people in our hospital beds is going down. And we’ve secured enough personal protective equipment to last our hospitals several weeks, with more deliveries on the way.

I’m lifting restrictions because Michigan residents have been doing their part. The people who have stayed home; our health care professionals and first responders on the front lines; businesses and workers manufacturing personal protective equipment; grocery store employees working around the clock to keep our shelves stocked; and the dedicated child care workers and educators — you made this possible.

In the coming days, I will be joined by leaders from the business, health and labor communities to provide more detail with the public about our criteria for re-engaging our economy. As always, we will make those decisions based on facts and science. And we will continue to do everything we can to protect our families and save lives.

We will get through this together.

Gretchen Whitmer is the 49th governor Michigan.