Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the state’s stay at home order on Friday to last until June 12 even as she faces pushback from Republican state lawmakers and some residents over the social distancing restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus.
“While the data shows that we are making progress, we are not out of the woods yet,” Whitmer said. “If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbors and loved ones from the spread of this virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home.”
“If we open too soon, thousands more could die and our hospitals will get overwhelmed,” the Democratic governor said, adding that, “we ﬁnally have more protective equipment like masks” but the state “can’t run the risk of running low again.”
Whitmer also extended Michigan’s state of emergency until June 19. Both orders were set to expire on May 29.
The stay at home order will keep certain businesses shuttered including theaters, gyms and casinos. Some bars and restaurants in the northern part of the state were allowed to open Friday at half-capacity.
The Republican-led state legislature sued Whitmer unsuccessfully earlier this month over her extension of Michigan’s state of emergency, arguing that she lacked authority to extend the order without the approval of the state legislature. The Michigan Court of Claims ruled Thursday in Whitmer’s favor.
Whitmer acknowledged the urgency of allowing the economy to revive and emphasized that some social distancing restrictions have already been lifted.
“All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again,” she said. “We’ve already loosened some restrictions on construction, manufacturing, landscaping, retail and more. But the worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we’ve made.”
Whitmer has attracted harsh criticism for her strict coronavirus lockdown polices, which prohibited residents from visiting their second residences and banned the sale of paint, furniture, and garden equipment. The strict policies prompted several demonstrations at the state Capitol by residents protesting the restrictions.
Earlier this month, dozens of protesters, some of them armed, went to the Michigan Capitol and stood in the Senate gallery, which is open to the public. Michigan State Police troopers blocked the demonstrators clamoring to enter the House chamber.