Here's what you need to know about Michigan's "stay at home" order | Michigan Radio
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Here's what you need to know about Michigan's "stay at home" order

Mar 23, 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered all Michiganders to stay at home for the next three weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, only "essential" businesses will be allowed to operate for the next three weeks, and all other businesses are ordered to suspend in-person operations. Michiganders are instructed to stay home as much as possible, but there are exceptions. 

Here's what you need to know about the order:

Can I leave my house at all?

Although the order is to "stay at home," that doesn't mean you can never leave your house again. That would be impossible! While you should stay at home as much as possible, the order does allow for exemptions, including:

  • Seeking medical attention. Health care facilities such as urgent cares and pharmacies will remain open. However, if you think you have COVID-19, call a medical professional before visiting in-person. Many insurance companies have also expanded telehealth options so you can speak to a doctor without leaving your home.
  • Gathering supplies or getting fuel. Grocery stores and gas stations will remain open. You should limit the amount of times you go to the store, but that doesn't mean you need to hoard food or supplies. The food supply chain will remain operational, so there will not be a food shortage.
  • Going for a walk. "Stay home" doesn't have to mean "stay inside." You can still walk a pet, go for a run, or play in your yard. But remember to maintain six feet of distance between you and anyone else you encounter. Avoid touching things like playground equipment or drinking fountains, and thoroughly wash your hands when you come inside.
  • Caring for another individual. If you need to leave your home to care for a family member, friend, or pet, you may (cautiously) do so. You can also continue to do volunteer work to provide food, shelter, and other "necessities of life" for those in need.

What will and won't close?

An array of operations are deemed critical under the order and will continue to operate while practicing proper social distancing. 

That includes:

  • Health care operations such as hospitals, pharmacies, veterinarians, and medical equipment suppliers
  • Law enforcement, transportation, trash pick-up, and other necessary government operations
  • Restaurants that are using carry-out or drive-thru options
  • News media and other crucial communications operations
  • Banks, grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores
  • Metroparks will remain open, however playgrounds and offices will be closed and programs are canceled

The order does not list every single business that will or won't close, but it warns that the rules "must be construed broadly to prohibit in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life."

Any non-critical business is ordered to suspend in-person operations. If necessary, a business or operation can designate certain employees as critical if their presence is necessary to maintain basic operations.

In order to have critical employees go into work, a business or operation is "required to make such designations in writing, whether by electronic message, public website, or other appropriate means."

How is this being enforced?

Violation of the order by nonessential businesses is a misdemeanor. 

Why is this order necessary?

The spread of the novel coronavirus has been rapid, and if it continues at the same rate, hopitals throughout the state will be overwhelmed and without protective equipment. Staying home and practicing social distancing will "flatten the curve."

Or as the state puts it, "to suppress the spread of COVID-19, to prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed, to allow time for the production of critical test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment, and to avoid needless deaths, it is reasonable and necessary to direct residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible."

Michigan now joins eight other states that have issued similar orders, including Ohio and Illinois. If the number of COVID-19 cases continue to grow nationwide, other states will likely follow soon.

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