Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order through April 30 as the state continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order, which closes non-essential businesses and prohibits public and private gatherings of any size, was originally set to expire April 13.
But Whitmer was clear that additional measures will likely need to be taken even after the extended stay-at-home order expires.
“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.”
Whitmer also expanded the scope of the order to reduce crowds in stores and to ban travel between two residences in the state.
Large stores will be required to limit the number of people inside to four customers per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space, while small stores are required to limit their capacity to 25% of the total occupancy limits, including employees, set by fire codes.
Stores will also be required to mark six foot spaces outside the store entrance for customers who are waiting to get in.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, both criticized the governor’s expanded order and suggested revisions allowing non-essential businesses to reopen in certain parts of the state.
“In times of crisis, swift bold action is often necessary to address immediate needs. Once that action is taken, the next logical step is a comprehensive evaluation of circumstances followed by commonsense revisions,” Shirkey said. “Now is the time for Governor Whitmer to make those commonsense revisions to her order.”
But Whitmer hit back, saying that reopening businesses like golf courses would jeopardize public health.
“Just by engaging in it can expose people to risk, serious risk. Every time you ask a low-income person to come out and fill up their gas tanks, go get food, it’s an additional opportunity for exposure and for spread. That’s what happens when you go to the golf course,” Whitmer said. “There are people who have to show up and go to work for your recreation and we’re exposing all of them to COVID-19, as well as the golfer.”
Whitmer said every exception to the stay-at-home order makes it “more porous and less likely to be successful.”
“I understand what their thought is,” Whitmer said, “but I’m in the business of saving lives, and that’s precisely what this order is going to do.”
There were 755 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Genesee County as of Thursday afternoon, and 48 people in the county have died from the virus.
Statewide, there have been 21,504 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,076 deaths from the virus.
The first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan were confirmed on March 10. Whitmer declared a state of emergency the same day and has since issued executive orders closing schools and nonessential businesses.