LANSING – Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Friday signed executive order 2020-59, extending her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through May 15. 

The new order will require people to wear homemade face coverings when they enter enclosed public spaces. It will also lift some restrictions on outdoor activities and allow some workers who perform previously suspended activities to go back to work. 

“Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. Social distancing is our best weapon to defeat this enemy,” said  Whitmer. “With new COVID-19 cases leveling off, however, we are lifting some of the restrictions put in place in the previous order. I want to be crystal clear: the overarching message today is still the same. We must all do our part by staying home and staying safe as much as possible.” 

“The numbers we’ve seen in the past week have shown a plateau in positive cases, but Michiganders must continue doing their part to fight this virus and protect their families,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “The governor has taken a number of critical steps to protect Michigan families, and this order today will allow that work to continue. We will keep monitoring the data closely and work with our partners across state government to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” 

The order will require people to wear homemade, non-medical grade face coverings when they enter enclosed public spaces. It will also require employers to provide at least cloth face coverings to their employees. People won’t have to wear face coverings when they’re taking a walk in the neighborhood, but when they go to the grocery store, they should be wearing one, according to the governor. Under the order, however, no one will be subject to criminal penalty for going without a mask. 

Whitmer said the new executive order will also allow some workers who perform very previously suspended activities to go back on the job. Landscapers, lawn-service companies, and nurseries can return to work, subject to strict social distancing. Retailers to that do not sell necessary supplies may reopen for curbside pick-up and for delivery. Big box stores can reopen “closed areas,” like garden centers. And bike repair and maintenance can come back online. 

At the same time, the order will ease up on some restrictions on members of the public. She said it will, for example, allow motorized boating and golf (but no golf carts), consistent with sound social distancing. It will also permit individuals to travel between their residences, though such travel during the epidemic is strongly discouraged. And it will clarify that state parks remain open, as they have been throughout the emergency. 

Whitmer said her actions Friday are in close alignment with other Midwest states. On April 16, Whitmer announced that she and Governors Mike DeWine of Ohio, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota, JB Pritzker of Illinois, Eric Holcomb of Indiana and Andy Beshear of Kentucky will work in close coordination to reopen the economy in the Midwest region. 

The governor said she is committed to continuing to work closely with other governors to protect families and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Although the latest executive order from Whitmer (2020-59) requires employers to provide appropriate face coverings to all of their onsite employees, that started at midnight on Monday,  appropriate face coverings remain in high demand and short supply. When Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel was alerted to the problem earlier Sunday, she issued the following statement:

“I know many business owners around the state are working hard to reopen and comply with the governor’s executive order.  Securing appropriate face coverings by the Monday deadline, though, appears to be a difficult task for some businesses given limited supplies. Therefore, I am asking our law enforcement partners around the state to consider the good faith efforts of businesses that have tried, but have been unsuccessful, in obtaining appropriate face coverings when deciding whether to take criminal enforcement action against a non-compliant business.  

“While businesses work diligently to find appropriate face coverings to meet the requirements of the executive order, I urge employees that can safely do so to use their own face coverings as protection until businesses provide face coverings as required by the governor’s order. The governor’s order requires that each of us – businesses and employees – work together to safely and successfully reopen our economy.  We appreciate the cooperation of law enforcement, employers and employees as we strive to carefully and thoughtfully reopen our state, one step at a time.”

On Sunday, Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-60 to establish strategies to reduce exposure to COVID-19 for customers and employees. The order also provides temporary relief by suspending certain licensing requirements and regulations for food service industries.    

“While Michiganders fight this virus, we must continue to take aggressive action to reduce exposure and prevent a second spike in cases,” said Whitmer. “This is not the time to slow our efforts; we must continue to be smart. By establishing these guidelines, we can protect Michigan families and our frontline workers. When we come together, we can slow the spread of this virus and save lives.” 

Under the order, customers are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when entering a food establishment. Grocery stores and pharmacies must allocate at least two hours per week of shopping time for vulnerable populations. Additionally, if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the establishment must notify other employees without infringing on private personal-health related information of an employee. 

In an effort to protect the health and safety of consumers, the order also outlines strategies food establishments and pharmacies must take to reduce possible exposure of COVID-19 to their customers. 

As outlined under Executive Order 2020-42, establishments must do the following: 

• Require checkout employees to wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief;  

• Ensure that both employees and customers remain at least six feet apart to the maximum extent possible; 

• Close self-serve prepared food stations such as salad bars and eliminate free samples and tasting stations; 

• Adopt procedures to meet the environmental cleaning guidelines set by the CDC, including by cleaning and disinfecting frequent touchpoints throughout the day such as point of sale terminals at registers, shopping carts, and shopping baskets; 

• Prohibit employees who are sick from reporting to work and send employees home if they display symptoms of COVID-19.  

• Accommodate employees who fall within a vulnerable population by providing lower-exposure work assignments or giving them the option to take an unpaid leave of absence with a return date coinciding with the end of the states of emergency and disaster. 

• Develop and implement a daily screening program, as described herein, for all staff upon or just prior to reporting to work sites. 

• And more. 

Due to the increased strain on Michigan’s food service industry, local health departments, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the governor has extended the deadline for certain forms of licensing and registration.   

Executive order 2020-60 is effective immediately.