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Lansing, MI – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order through May 15 on Friday but relaxed some restrictions on previously suspended activities.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said the number of new cases have hit a plateau.
“Social distancing is our best weapon to defeat this enemy,” Whitmer said. “With new COVID-19 cases leveling off, however, we are lifting some of the restrictions put in place in the previous order.”
Under the new order, people are required to wear homemade face masks any time they are in enclosed public spaces, and employers must provide at least cloth face coverings for their employees.
No one will be subject to criminal penalty for failing to wear a mask, but businesses can refuse service to customers who do not have their face covered.
Whitmer said the masks are one of the restrictions that need to remain in place to prevent a second spike in cases.
“I want to be crystal clear: the overarching message today is still the same,” Whitmer said. “We must all do our part by staying home and staying safe as much as possible.”
Under the new order, people will be allowed to golf or motorboat as long as social distancing measures are followed.
Traveling between residences in the state–banned under the previous order–is now allowed, but strongly discouraged, Whitmer said.
Retailers who don’t sell essential supplies can reopen for curbside pick-up and delivery, while large stores can reopen their garden centers and other closed areas.
The new order also allows landscapers, lawn-service companies and nurseries to resume their operations.
Whitmer said her administration will closely monitor the effect of the relaxed restrictions.
“We will consider this the preliminary stage of economic reengagement,” Whitmer said. “We will make informed decisions in the coming days about potential further economic re-engagement.”
If the number of new cases continue to decline, Whitmer said restrictions could be relaxed further.
But if they start to rise again, Whitmer said we may need to go back to a more restrictive stay-at-home order.
”It depends on you,” Whitmer said. “If we continue to see our numbers decline, we can responsibly consider additional steps we can take. If we see an increase, we may have to be nimble enough to go backward on occasion. My fervent hope is that people still take this incredibly seriously.”
Whitmer said the actions are in close alignment with those taken by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who are coordinating their efforts to reopen their states’ respective economies.
Whitmer previewed earlier this week some of the factors she will consider when determining which sectors of the economy can reopen first and some restrictions that may be placed on the businesses when they do reopen.
Whitmer said she will continue communicating her plans for reopening the economy in the coming days.
Even when more sectors of the economy do start reopening, Khaldun said it will be a long time before things truly go back to normal.
“We have to keep in mind that it may take as long as 18 months for a vaccine to be developed for COVID-19 and we still don’t have the antibiotic treatments for this disease,” Khaldun said. “So, life in the foreseeable future will not go back exactly to what it was before COVID-19. This is truly going to be a marathon and not a sprint.”
Michigan had 35,291 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state Monday, and 2,977 people have died from the virus.
Of the confirmed cases, 1,387 are in Genesee County, and 144 people in the county have died from the virus.