By Jim Newell
Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order on Monday, calling for most of the state’s nearly 10 million residents to stay at home and avoid all contact with others.
Executive Order 2020-21 temporarily suspends activities “that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.” The order took effect at 12:01 a.m. March 24 and continues through 11:59 p.m. April 13.
“In just 13 days, we’ve gone from zero to over 1,000 COVID-19 cases,” said Whitmer. “This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities. The most effective way we can slow down the virus is to stay home. I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary. If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home, we can stay safe and save lives.”
During the shutdown, the governor directed all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.
The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, such as the medical personnel, public safety, first responders, law enforcement, public transit, trash pickup and disposal, community-based government operations and essential functions, communications and information technology, including news media, water/wastewater, public works and food and agriculture.
Banks will also be open, but residents are advised to check with their particular financial institution’s procedures.
“Taking aggressive action to protect our communities is the most important thing we can do to mitigate further spread of COVID-19,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “If we do this now, we can make sure our hospitals and healthcare workers are prepared to take care of the sickest people. It is crucial that people do the right thing by staying home and staying safe.”
Residents can engage in outdoor activities, like taking walks and going to the park as long as they maintain six feet of social distance from anyone not living with them. Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter has closed all parks with playgrounds to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.
People can also go to the grocery story, gas station, pharmacy or hospital, and “perform tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family,” according to the order.
Whitmer has ordered all restaurants closed for dine in, but can still provide carry out orders, as long as workers and customers maintain six feet of distance from each other.
All other non-essential businesses, such as retail, hair salons, nail salons and tattoo shops are closed.
Workers, except in certain industries, cannot be required to leave their homes and to go work, “except to the extent that those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or conduct minimum basic operations,” the order stated.
Orion’s elected state officials are divided on the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order:
State Senator Rosemary Bayer (D-12th District) sent out an email after Whitmer’s press conference, supporting the governor’s executive order.
State Representative John Reilly (R-46th District) said the governor’s actions went too far.
Their full comments are below.
Sen. Rosemary Bayer
“As I hope most of you already know, this morning Governor Whitmer issued a ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ Executive Order. While I know this order will be a hardship for many, I believe it is necessary to save potentially hundreds of thousands of lives. It was a tough choice and, I believe, the correct choice.
“My staff and I will be working hard every day to ensure our residents get the support they need. Please check my website for resources to help you and your family. For those who have questions about the state’s actions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-535-6136 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
“In addition, while my staff and I are working remotely, we will be checking our email and phones regularly each day. You can reach us at SenRBayer@senate.michigan.gov or by phone at 517-373-2417. We will respond to messages and emails as quickly as possible, but please have patience as we are getting hundreds of emails daily.
I know this is a scary time and I know we Michiganders are a tough and determined people. We will make it through this, and we will be stronger on the other side. Stay home friends!” Bayer said.
Rep. John Reilly
Reilly said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “stay-at-home order goes too far” and “threatens to derail Michigan’s economy” while raising “serious constitutional concerns.”
“Issuing a stay-at-home order is a dangerous overreaction that will cause dramatic economic damage, more so than has already been caused,” Reilly said. “While I realize we are in uncharted territory with this virus, we also need to seriously consider the impact of mass unemployment and poverty, which will harm the public health as well as our quality of life.
“I also have serious concerns about the governor’s continued use of executive orders, and the constitutional questions they raise. Even if we are facing a public health emergency, how does the governor have the authority to suspend the Michigan Constitution – which guarantees, among other things, the right to peaceful assembly? When this is over, we must take a serious look at the powers of the governor, and how they balance with our state’s public health needs and the livelihoods of Michigan families.
“I do believe people should be listening to the medical professionals and taking precautions to slow the spread of this virus, such as social distancing and working from home whenever possible. Seniors and other people with underlying health concerns should take steps to isolate and protect themselves – but this should be done voluntarily, without placing the entire state on lockdown, as the governor has decided to do.”