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What Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home executive order means to Michigan

May 7 update: Michigan stay-at-home order extended to May 28
April 29 update: Michigan Gov. Whitmer to reopen construction industry May 7

Prepare to stay at home until at least May 15. But while you do it, you can now buy gardening supplies, fire up the motorboat or play a few rounds of golf. 

These are among the new freedoms allowed under an extended stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday. She’s faced criticism over the last two weeks from conservatives and others who argued her April 9 stay-at-home order was riddled with unnecessary restrictions.

Under the new order, which goes into effect immediately, many restrictions remain the same: You still can’t go back to work unless you’re an essential worker, and you can’t get together with friends in small groups. But restrictions on retail stores, travel, outdoor recreation and even bicycle maintenance have been loosened. 

“These are changes that public health experts say are lower risk… we will consider this the preliminary stage of economic re-engagement,” Whitmer said at a press conference Friday. “My fervent hope is that people will still take this incredibly seriously.”

The state will track COVID-19 infection rates and ramp up testing capacity and contact tracing to monitor how the changes are affecting the disease’s spread in Michigan, Whitmer said.

The results will help decide whether the latest order is extended. 

Here’s what you need to know about the new stay-at-home order. 

Wearing a mask in public enclosed spaces is required. You won’t get arrested if you don’t

Everyone who is “able to medically tolerate” it will be required beginning April 27 to wear a face-covering while in public enclosed spaces such as grocery stores. 

That might include a homemade mask such as a scarf or bandana. But don’t go out and buy medical-grade coverings like N-95 or surgical masks. Those should be saved for health care workers and other first responders, Whitmer said. 

You won’t be “subject to a criminal penalty” for not wearing a mask in stores and you aren’t required to wear one outside. “But you should consider it anyway,” she said.

If you have to do in-person work of any kind, your employer is now required to provide non-medical grade face coverings for you and gloves, goggles or face shields depending on the job performed.

Golfing and boating is now allowed, and you can get your bike tuned up

Under the previous stay-at-home order, golf courses and motorized boating, including jet skis, weren’t allowed. 

That’s changed under the new order. All boating is now allowed, including kayaks and canoes (which were previously allowed) and motorboats, pontoons, jet skis and other motorized boats. 

Golfing is also allowed, though golfers can’t use golf carts when they go out. 

Bicycle repair shops were also required to be closed under the old order, only to open for essential workers who relied on their bike as a means of transportation to work. Under the new order, professional bicycle repair is allowed for anyone. 

Lawn care, gardening, pest control and landscaping workers are back on the job 

As long as they follow social distancing rules while working, people who perform these “low-risk” jobs are allowed to go back to work. 

In instances where workers share equipment, businesses are required to do “frequent and thorough cleaning” to maintain sanitation. Employers are required to provide gloves, googles, face shields and masks “as appropriate.”

The other doesn’t change any restrictions on construction work, the governor’s office said: Construction to maintain roads, bridges and other infrastructure can go on, but commercial projects, non-emergency home improvements and other non-essential construction still aren’t allowed.

Shopping for non-essential goods is back, but only remotely 

No longer are sales limited to grocery stores and other essential retail shops: All businesses are now allowed to sell their wares through delivery or curbside pickup. They’re required to stay closed to in-person shopping, though. 

Even for essential goods like groceries, people are encouraged to use curbside pickup and delivery when possible to avoid contact with others.

Travel between your homes is allowed, but not to rentals 

Under the last stay-at-home order, Michiganders were barred from traveling between their homes. That’s changed under the new order, which allows people to travel between their homes or move into a new one. 

That means if you own a cottage Up North and you’re downstate, you can go there. But Whitmer said she would “strongly discourage” doing that. 

“Our rural hospitals simply are not equipped” to treat “an influx of people” if COVID-19 were to spread in northern Michigan, she said. If you do decide to go Up North, avoid going to local grocery stores or other shops. 

If you don’t own a second home, tough luck: Travel to vacation rentals is still prohibited.

Garden supplies, paint supplies, furniture and flooring are back in big stores

Big stores like Meijer, Walmart and Target will be allowed to reopen sections for carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, and paint supplies that were required to be blocked off under the last stay-at-home order.

Here’s what you can’t do

Despite the major changes made Friday, most elements of the stay-at-home order remained the same. 

Who is considered an essential worker follows federal guidelines issued in March, limiting regular in-person work to people working in industries required to sustain life such as healthcare, sanitation and agricultural workers. 

People are allowed to leave their homes to do essential work or get necessary supplies like medication, groceries or gas. Exercising and walking pets is allowed, and people are required to maintain a six-foot distance from others.

Social gatherings of any size are banned, and in-person dining, entertainment, hair care and other services are still closed. 

"Each of these actions has contributed to the saving of lives in our state," Whitmer said of the stay at home orders Friday. 

"The more that we observe this, the stronger our economy will be when we do fully engage."

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