Michigan's stay at home order: what does this mean for you?

Pictured is a screenshot of the executive order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday.

CADILLAC — With Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's issuance of a "stay at home" order Monday, you might be wondering what exactly that means and how it differs from "shelter in place" orders declared in other states and countries.

Michigan is the latest state to issue such an order and while some variation does exist, both types of orders have the same basic premise: they restrict travel for all non-essential purposes and prohibit public gatherings.

As with most things, however, the devil is in the details.

For instance, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been adamant in saying the term "shelter in place" should not be used as it brings connotations of a lockdown similar to what would transpire during an active shooter situation or nuclear war.

State Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton, said there is a good deal of interchangeability between the two terms, although she added some orders are stricter than others.

In Michigan, the order, which takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, will prohibit businesses from requiring employees to leave their homes unless they are necessary to sustain or protect life, or to conduct minimum basic operations. It also will bar all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household.

While the order dictates that people refrain from engaging in non-essential travel or activities, a Cadillac News analysis of the order reveals it is not a complete lockdown where people are forced to remain inside at all costs; there are a number of valid reasons listed for someone to leave their home.

Exceptions include the following: for people to engage in outdoor recreational activity (assuming they remain six feet from other people nearby); to perform jobs as critical infrastructure workers (see below for full description); to conduct minimum basic operations of a business; to perform necessary government activities; for medical or other health-related appointments; to obtain necessary items such as groceries, gasoline and automobile repairs; to care for a family member or pet; to attend legal proceedings; to care for vulnerable persons such as minors and the elderly; to visit an individual at a health care, residential care, or congregate care facility; and to work or volunteer for businesses and operations (including both and religious and secular nonprofit organizations) that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals.

Individuals may also return home from outside the area, leave the state for a home or residence elsewhere, and transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.

Critical infrastructure workers include those in health care and public health, law enforcement, public safety, first responders, food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, transportation and logistics, public works, communications and information technology, including news media, other community-based government operations and essential functions, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials, financial services, chemical supply chains and safety, and defense industrial base.

For the purposes of the order, critical infrastructure workers also include those in the childcare industry and workers at supplier and distribution centers that provide necessary services for those in the primary critical infrastructure categories. It also includes those in the insurance industry who cannot do their work remotely and those who perform critical labor union functions.

Those permitted to work from the office must follow stringent social distancing and sanitation requirements, including the following: restricting the number of workers present on premises to no more than is strictly necessary to perform the business’s or operation’s critical infrastructure functions; keeping workers and patrons who are on premises at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible, including for customers who are standing in line; increasing standards of facility cleaning and disinfection to limit worker and patron exposure to COVID-19, as well as adopting protocols to clean and disinfect in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace; and adopting policies to prevent workers from entering the premises if they display respiratory symptoms or have had contact with a person who is known or suspected to have COVID-19.

The order takes effect on March 24 at 12:01 a.m., and continues through April 13 at 11:59 p.m. The governor will evaluate the continuing need for this order prior to its expiration.

A willful violation of this order could result in someone being charged with a misdemeanor.