Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is extending the state’s shelter-in-place order through May 15 to curb the spread of the novel Wuhan coronavirus, but also lifting some of the draconian provisions previously put in place that banned the sale of paint and gardening seeds.
“Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. Social distancing is our best weapon to defeat this enemy,” Whitmer said in a statement announcing her order. “With new COVID-19 cases leveling off, however, we are lifting some of the restrictions put in place in the previous order.”
The state’s residents are now required “to wear homemade, non-medical grade face coverings,” in enclosed public places such as the grocery stores but are not subject to criminal penalties for not doing so.
The order is also allowing many of the state’s residents to travel freely from house to house and may now go back to work in landscaping and nurseries while allowing retailers to reopen for curbside service and delivery.
Whitmer’s prior executive orders barring the state’s people from traveling “between residences” and prohibiting sales of items deemed non-essential made Michigan subject to the strictest shelter-in-place orders in the country and triggered mass protests in the capitol of Lansing.
The scene in Lansing right now as protests over @GovWhitmer's stay home order continue.
— Detroit Free Press (@freep) April 15, 2020
The directive led four state sheriffs protecting citizens in the northeast part of the mitten to declare they would not enforce Whitmer’s totalitarian orders citing concerns with individuals’ civil liberties.
Several Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation also condemned Whitmer’s decree, urging the governor to find another way to combat the virus without the clampdown.
“Your latest order is far too restrictive and includes provisions that seem arbitrary and internally inconsistent… We believe there is a better approach,” Reps. Paul Mitchell, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, and Jack Bergman wrote in a joint letter last week.
As of this writing, Michigan has reported a total of nearly 37,000 cases of the novel coronavirus with more than 3,000 deaths in the Great Lakes state.