What Michigan’s coronavirus stay-at-home order means for residents

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency order telling most residents to stay at home will have dramatic implications for the state (Shutterstock)

April 10 update: What Michigan's new coronavirus stay-at-home executive order means
April 9 update: Coronavirus pandemic extends Michigan stay-at-home order until end of April

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used her emergency authority Monday to order state residents to stay in their homes and avoid in-person work through April 13 to avoid further spread of the coronavirus. What does that mean, and who is allowed to still travel or work and under what circumstances? Here are answers to some basic questions: 

You can read the order here.

When does this lockdown order start?

12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

How long am I to stay in my home?

Until 11:59 p.m., April 13

Who is supposed to stay in their homes?

Everyone whose jobs are “not necessary to sustain or protect life…(or to)  “conduct minimum basic operations”

Who can still go to work?

Check with your employer, but in general, workers in the following fields can continue to leave their homes for work:

  • Health care and public health
  • Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders
  • Child care
  • Food and agriculture (such as groceries and carryout restaurants. Agriculture likely includes farm workers but it does not say specifically)
  • Energy
  • Water and wastewater
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Public works
  • Communications and information technology, including news media
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions of government 
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Hazardous materials
  • Financial services (such as banks, credit unions and insurance industry workers who cannot complete their work from home, at minimum)
  • Chemical supply chains and safety
  • Defense industrial base

What will remain open?

Along with the services and businesses listed above, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and banks, carryout restaurants and what were typically dine-in restaurants that are now serving carry-out only can stay open.

What services will continue?

Trash pickup and public transit, for example, will continue, as will maintenance of public parks to allow for outdoor recreation. (Note, however, Oakland County has ordered playground equipment closed to prevent spread of the coronavirus.)  Delivery services will continue. The order encourages residents to use delivery services as much as possible.

The grocery is open. Am I allowed to go there?

Residents can leave their homes to get food at grocery stores, fill prescriptions at pharmacies and put gas in their cars. You can drive to pick up carryout meals.

What about taking care of my elderly relative?

The order allows travel to care for a family member or a family member’s pet, or to care for elderly, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable people.

Can I still volunteer?

You can leave your home to volunteer with groups that are helping provide food, shelter and other necessities during the crisis.

Can I take a walk?

Residents can leave their homes to walk, exercise a pet, hike, run or cycle, but “just be smart about it and maintain a six-foot distance” between people, Whitmer said Monday.

What if I’m out of state and want to come back to Michigan?

You can leave your home if you are traveling out of state, or back into the state, and between homes in Michigan if you have multiple residences.

Will I be arrested if I leave my house and I’m not an essential worker?

It’s possible. A willful violation of the order is a criminal misdemeanor. Whitmer mentioned in a news conference announcing the order Monday that businesses that are not considered essential could be fined if they stay open. The order includes an exemption for places of religious worship.

But arrests also seem unlikely. Local law enforcement officials, including Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, in recent days have said they likely will issue warnings for first-time violators of other public health orders limiting movements.

 Does this extend Michigan’s school closure?

Yes. The order means Michigan schools, previously scheduled to reopen April 6, will be closed until at least April 13.

Can I have a handful of friends over?

No. “All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household are prohibited.”

Is this it, or could the stay-at-home order be extended?

Whitmer said she will re-evaluate the continuing need of the order before it expires.


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Mon, 03/23/2020 - 7:23pm

What about plasma donation centers? They are not getting the proper face masks that are needed to stop the spread. And unfortunately when people are scared and need cash they will lie about being sick! Would the plasma be any good? Is the plasma something that will help the coronavirus? What about the saline they use could that be used for coronavirus, what about there beds could they be used for the needs of pop up hospitals? I'm a very concerned person about myself my fellow coworkers donors and the medical patients that receive plasma in there medications.

RoseAnne Constable
Mon, 03/23/2020 - 8:43pm

I don't think many companies are following the issue stayed by the Governor. The TI plant I work for runs three shifts and other plants that I am aware of told us today that work continues no matter what. We make a plastic part for the automotive industry that is shut down. Hmmmm office staff with their own safe offices are ok to stay at home the last month though, not the assembly and production workers though. Something very wrong here.

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 8:51am

according to home land automotive is part of critical manufacturing and must stay open

Michael Atherton
Mon, 03/23/2020 - 11:17pm

I donate plasma 2 times a week its helping out to save lives am I still able to drive to donate plasma

Susan Szerlag
Tue, 03/24/2020 - 2:15pm

Contact the Red Cross.

Heather Morse
Tue, 03/24/2020 - 1:28pm

What about exchanging children for custody orders? Can we travel for that?

Grampa Mike
Mon, 04/13/2020 - 10:15am

Good question?

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 4:05pm

My boyfriend has a kid what is the rules on that if the kid does live with you

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 9:07am

Can I travel between my home in southern Michigan and my cottage in northern Michigan multiple times while the stay at home mandate is in effect ?

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 11:15pm


Wed, 03/25/2020 - 10:22am

Are people getting pulled over for driving places? And can we get fined if we don’t have a good reason for being out?

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 1:01pm

Can I travel from Jackson to Detroit river to go fishing,?

Sun, 03/29/2020 - 6:30am

According to the Michigan DNR, YES . As long as you do social distancing!!
Check their website for info.

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 2:43pm

Whitmer warned businesses Monday that those who don’t comply will face fines: “Don’t play fast and loose with what is essential and what’s not. Don’t try to skirt the rules.”

Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $500 or 90 days in jail, said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
I called the local police on a company thats makes cabinets. They told the officer they have a form that they can still be open. I didn't know cabinets where life savers.? This lock down is a waste if we all abide by the law then it may work. When you have a company that lies about what they do then this whole mess just gets worse

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 4:32pm

Next week is spring break. Can I take my kids up north? We had a road trip planned, will we get pulled over?

Louis Francis C...
Mon, 03/30/2020 - 2:50pm

No orders are stay at home . virus is every where . Why would you endanger your family for a road trip that could potentially get them a deadly Virus.

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 5:52am

If they think that im going to stay home and sit on my ass. For another 2 1\2 weeks. They can kiss my ass. I would go insane. I will be out going hiking and fishing and engoying the simple fact of not having to deal with any stupid\dumbass people while im out an about.
And all you people that think that this shit is going to let up on april 13th. Good luck! Its not. Next step after that is most likely going to institute some form of martial law. And then that will get worse. So keep believeing all the crap about staying home is good for you.

Sun, 03/29/2020 - 6:34am

Just keep your distance from others.

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 12:00pm

Please think about this before you travel - initially counties north of Zilwaukee bridge had no or very few cases reported. As people have traveled up north, so has the virus. We are small towns up here, with small hospitals, and after hours clinics who have closed due to no supplies. Please folks, think about what you're doing before leaving your own county.

middle of the mit
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 1:17am

The party of personal responsibility doesn't CARE AT ALL ABOUT ANYTHING BUT THEMSELVES. I am sorry. But I am not going to lie to you. So goes individualism so goes selfishness!

6 of one half dozen of the other. It's all the same.


Tue, 03/31/2020 - 10:34am

Can a person who has a home in MI travel to their place from Illinois without legal incident?

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 4:39am

I need to move out of my home as it has just sold, but I need my family to help me move. Will/ could we be ticketed because we're not from the same house hold?

Tammy Goodwin
Sun, 04/05/2020 - 4:07am

I pray for our country and state that we may overcome this horrible pandemic and it becomes part of our past and learn from it!

Jack meoff
Sun, 04/12/2020 - 2:58pm

Why did it spread so fast in Michigan? Bc we have a large black population. The virus magically targets the fk out of black communities.

Wendy G
Sun, 04/12/2020 - 3:21pm

Great information! This article needs to be updated though.

Mon, 04/13/2020 - 2:41pm

can I go fishing off shore?

Tue, 04/21/2020 - 7:20am

To clarify if I'm a resident of another state, but have a vacation home in MI I can't come back May 1st for the summer?