What Does Governor Whitmer's Stay-At-Home Order Mean?

Mar 23, 2020

Monday morning Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order for residents in the state to slow the spread of COVID19. Michigan is now the state with the fifth most cases—behind California, New Jersey, New York, and Washington. WKAR’s Politics reporter Abigail Censky joined All Things Considered Host Karel Vega via phone to break down what you can and can’t do under the order Below are highlights of their conversation:

How did we get here?

Michigan now has 1,328 confirmed cases and 15 deaths as of Monday morning, cases doubled over the weekend. Whitmer said if this rate of exponential increase continues, 70 percent of the state, or seven million people, could become infected—with 1 million people needing hospitalization.

That number of hospitalizations would inundate Michigan’s health system which only has 25,000 acute care beds. Whitmer said her purpose in executing a stay-at-home order, after grappling with the impact the order would have on the state’s economy over the weekend, is to slow community spread of COVID-19, protect the state’s healthcare system, and allow for production of test kits and ventilators. 

What Does ‘Stay-At-Home’ Mean?

This order takes effect Tues at 12:01 a.m., and continues through April 13, 2020 at 11:59 pm.

Unless your job protects or sustains life, or you’re a member of critical infrastructure you should stay home with exceptions for essential activities like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, getting gas, or going to the bank.

Anything you can get by delivery—you’re encouraged to get via delivery. If you do go out, you can’t gather inside or outside of your home aside from members of your own household, and you should stay six feet away from people.

You can still go outside for exercise and fresh air, and if you don’t live in Michigan you can go home to your out-of-state residence. You can also travel between residences in Michigan if you have more than one house.

Residents will also be permitted to travel to care for a family member outside of the home, or a family member’s pet outside of the home.

People who are volunteers with organizations that provide food or shelter to the needy or disabled are also permitted to leave their home to continue working throughout the stay-at-home order. You can read the full text of the order, here

Who’s Critical Infrastructure?

Health care workers, grocery store employees, childcare workers, pharmacists, law enforcement, public safety, and first responders are all considered part of critical infrastructure. People who work in trash pick-up, waste water, energy, as well as food and agriculture workers are also deemed to be critical workers.

There are exemptions for workers who are “necessary to conduct minimum basic operations…who’s in-person presence is strictly necessary to allow the business or operation.” These are workers who need to maintain the value of inventory or equipment, care for animals, provide security, process transactions like payroll or employee benefits, or facilitate the ability for other employees to work remotely.

 What Happens If You Break The Order?

If an individual or business defies the stay-at-home order, they could face a misdemeanor carrying a $500 dollar fine, and potentially 90 days in jail.