MONDAY, March 23 — Much of Michigan is at a standstill through mid-April after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in a sweeping executive mandate issued this morning, ordered all business operations closed that are “not necessary to sustain or protect life,” also directing residents to stay at home except for in very limited circumstances.
“This disease can’t spread from person to person if we’re not out there,” Whitmer announced at a press conference today. “Right now, too many people are still out and about unnecessarily, so we must do more.”
Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order demands all residents stay in their homes for the next three weeks unless they’re doing an outdoor activity, are part of a “critical infrastructure workforce,” or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family — like a trip to the hospital or picking up supplies at a grocery store. Under state law, those who violate the order could face a misdemeanor charge.
When residents leave their homes, they’re also required under the executive order to adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, including remaining at least six feet from people outside their immediate household “to the extent feasible under the circumstances,” according to a statement from Whitmer’s office.
“Critical infrastructure workforce” is defined by guidelines issued by the CDC. Businesses that remain open for in-person operations include some sectors of health care and public health; law enforcement, public safety and first response services; food and agriculture; energy; waste and wastewater; transportation and logistics; public works; communications and information technology, including news media; defense and other critical industry manufacturing; hazardous materials; financial services; chemical supply chains and safety and government staff.
Exceptions to closures have been defined by the CDC to include childcare, automotive repair and maintenance; grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail locations that sell food and beverage; manufacturers, processors and distributors of food and medical equipment; mortuary services including funeral homes; farm workers; company cafeterias; agricultural chemical manufacturers; restaurant carry-out, gas stations and most utility and energy businesses; wastewater treatment; transportation and logistics companies, including postal services; airlines and mass transit; security workers; elections staff; financial services like banks; educators and hotels.
While the recent restrictions still allow for carryout and delivery from Michigan restaurants, Whitmer said her ongoing shutdown mandate on schools and restaurant dining rooms will continue through at least April 13.
The order also does not prohibit outdoor exercise and still allows businesses to operate remotely, as long as they all avoid in-person operations, though the Detroit Free Press reports residents can expect to see closures at professional firms, such as lawyers offices, real estate companies, accounting organizations and other services.
Other places — like gyms, spas, theaters, hair and nail salons, tattoo shops and other retailers — have already been shuttered under another executive order from last week. Some had already proactively closed their doors.
Whitmer encourages non-essential businesses not to skirt the rules over the next few weeks or face consequences.
“This is not a recommendation. This is an order,” Whitmer said. “For any businesses that don’t heed this order, anticipate there will be fines and they will be shut down. We have a moment to stem the crisis that’s unfolding.”
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