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

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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