Gov. Whitmer says we can begin to resume activities, work and visits, but with new protections like required face masks. Here are five takeaways you need to know.
LANSING, MI — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, but the Michigan Stay-at-Home order looks different than last month.
“We can now start the process of gradually resuming in-person work and activities that were temporarily suspended under my prior orders,” Whitmer said in a document obtained by the AP. “But in doing so, we must move with care, patience and vigilance, recognizing the grave harm that this virus continued to inflect on our state and how quickly our progress in suppressing it can be undone.”
The new order, Executive Order 2020-59, was issued Friday morning and runs through May 15.
A number of the protections it has had in place through April are being loosened. Whitmer is expected to speak at 11 a.m. to make the formal announcement.
Here are five key takeaways from the order:
1. Face Masks are Now Required
Where access to personal protective equipment (PPE) has been somewhat hard to come by, things like requiring face masks in confined public spaces were unrealistic. But as the ability to secure PPE has slowly expanded over the past month, the new order will mandate its use. If a person in a confined public space like a grocery store can medically tolerate wearing a face mask, they will be legally required to do so, and employers must provide non-medical grade masks to any in-person employees.
2. Travel Between Homes is Allowed
Michiganders with multiple residences can travel between them again. Where before things like stopping for gas posed a significant public health risk, efforts to mitigate the pandemic have reduced those dangers. While a lot of travel still is reasonably discouraged, situations like people being “trapped” at a second home no longer will arise.
3. Outdoor Activities Can Resume
Things like golf and boating have been made symbols to conservative opposition to the pandemic response. Thanks to the efforts to slow the spread of the disease, a number of outdoor activities can resume. However, those activities must still abide by the social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For instance, while golfing is permitted, use of golf carts is still prohibited.
4. Gardening Stores and Lawncare Services Reopen
Stores that sell items for outdoor activities also are opening again. The new “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order allows nonessential retail to reopen for pickup and delivery options only and big-box retailers will be able to reopen their garden centers. These restrictions to what could be sold helped reduce the number of people going to stores at one time, but no longer are required to slow the spread, in part thanks to the requirement to wear PPE in those stores. Complaints about access to gardening supplies have been common among Michigan conservatives, and the May evolution of the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order relaxes those protections.
5. In-Person Work is Still Limited
Restaurants are going to remain closed to dine-in customers. Michiganders probably will not be able to go get a haircut. The vast majority of in-person work is still not permitted to resume to limit the activities where PPE must be expended and the virus could be spread. But more sectors of the economy than before will be open and operating. And, Whitmer notes, this is the first in what will be many waves of restorations of daily Michigan life as the pandemic continues to be reined in by savvy Michigander social distancing.
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It is unclear how these changes will impact conservative opposition to Michigan’s Stay-at-Home order. As The ‘Gander reported, legislative Republicans have been interested in scaling back the protections in place through April that have been instrumental in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Additionally, high-profile protests in Lansing are scheduled to continue, including one calling for a complete end to coronavirus responses from the governor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.