‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order extended to April 30

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — To slow the spread of COVID-19, an order requiring Michiganders to stay home has been extended through the end of the month.

Thursday afternoon, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to extend her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through April 30.

Executive Order 2020-42 prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses and operations are to designate the workers who meet those criteria, and must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons in the performance of that in-person work.  Workers who are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers and more.

Under the new order, all public and private gatherings among people outside a single household remain temporarily prohibited. Though Michiganders may leave the house to get groceries or needed supplies, the new order encourages people to limit the number of household members running errands to the maximum extent possible. As before, people may engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, kayaking, canoeing or any other recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least 6 feet from people from outside a person’s household and with other restrictions imposed by prior executive orders. The order clarifies, however, that travel for vacations or for any other purpose is prohibited.

“Michigan has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’re still on the upswing. We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families,” Whitmer said. “Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. When we do, we can save lives and shorten the amount of time we’re working through this crisis, which will be good for our families and good for our economy in the long-run. We can also protect critical infrastructure workers like doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, and child care workers. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that people stay home and stay safe.”

A new section of the order imposes restrictions on stores in an effort to reduce crowds. Large stores must limit the number of people in the store at one time to no more than four customers for every 1,000 square feet of customer floor space. Small stores must limit capacity to 25 percent of the total occupancy limits — including employees — under the fire codes. To regulate entry, stores must establish lines with markings for patrons to enable them to stand at least six feet apart from one another while waiting. Large stores must also close areas of the store that are dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries or paint.

“This doesn’t mean everything will go back to normal on May 1,” Whitmer said. “But based on the data we have right now, this is the appropriate window for an extension. It will take time to safely and responsibly re-open the economy, which is why we will continue to provide critical unemployment support and assistance to our small businesses during this challenging time. We will get through this if we all continue to do our part.”

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the number of confirmed positive cases in the state of Michigan had risen to 21,504, with 1,076 deaths.