Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has once more extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order from April 30 to May 15. With the new order the governor is now requiring all citizens to wear face covering over the nose and mouth, such as a cloth mask or scarf when inside public spaces such as grocery stores or carryout restaurants.
The order also loosens some restrictions on gardening centers, lawn care companies, golf courses, and travel between residences, which have drawn the criticism of the state’s Republican legislature and inspired protests at the capitol in Lansing.
Whitmer previously extended the order on the closure of restaurants for dine-in service to April 30. That order still stands for now, but will likely get an update. Many restaurant employees are already voluntarily wearing face masks and Oakland County announced a rule requiring them at essential businesses beginning on April 27. This new rule will make them a required part of the daily uniform.
Residents must now wear a homemade, non-medical grade face covering when in enclosed public spaces, and employers at open businesses are required to provide at least a close face covering for their employees. Whitmer stated that medical-grade N95 masks should still be reserved for medical workers only.
There won’t be a criminal penalty tied to not using a face mask. However, Whitmer clarified at a press conference today that businesses do have the right to refuse service to people who aren’t wearing the proper face coverings, aren’t wearing them properly (over the nose and mouth), or who aren’t following social distancing guidelines. Masks should be worn in addition to staying six feet from other customers and employees.
The governor also urged customers at grocery stores to avoid touching their faces and then touching produce, a concern she says was raised by several grocery store workers she spoke with on Friday morning.
Whitmer’s order also represents what she referred to as a “preliminary stage of economic reengagement” where some workers will be allowed to return to performing low-risk activities. Landscapers, lawn service companies, and nurseries may reopen for business with strict observance of social distancing protocols. Companies should also be taking care to disinfect equipment shared between employees and provide masks, gloves, other gear. “Retailers to that do not sell necessary supplies may reopen for curbside pickup and for delivery. Big box stores can reopen ‘closed areas,’ like garden centers. And bike repair and maintenance can come back online,” the order states.
Whitmer is also allowing people to use motorized boats, play golf at proper social distance (no golf carts allowed), and travel. However, she discouraged people from making any non-essential trips throughout the state due to the limited medical capacity and resources at rural hospitals.
In her press conference, Whitmer stated that the government would be closely monitoring levels of infection to see if the reopening of these businesses can be done safely. That will help the state determine how to move forward with other measures to jumpstart the economy.
Early on in the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, people were urged not to horde masks in an effort to prevent shortages for health care workers, medical first-responders, and people who were actually sick. Officials also feared that by wearing a mask, people might become less careful about social distancing. But as the novel coronavirus spread, the CDC’s guidelines around masks evolved.
On April 3, the CDC changed its recommendations to advise that every person in the U.S. wear a cloth mask or face covering in certain public spaces (not a surgical or N95 mask). The goal of wearing a mask is not so much to prevent yourself from getting sick but to help protect others; the coronavirus is particularly contagious and can be spread through airborne droplets by asymptomatic carriers and people who are sick but aren’t yet showing symptoms. If everyone wears a mask in addition to staying six feet apart and washing hands frequently, then those carrying the virus are less likely to spread it to people around them.
• Michigan Extends Restaurant Dining Room Closures Until End of April [ED]
• Oakland County Will Start Requiring Restaurant Workers to Wear Face Masks [ED]
• For Restaurants, Masks Could Be the New Normal [ED]
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