Michigan order banning travel “between residences” takes effect

TheHill reports an extension of Michigan’s stay-at-home order barring residents from buying nonessential items or traveling “between residences” in the state except to perform essential activities went into effect Saturday morning.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed the order Friday evening after announcing it Thursday, also extending the order directing residents to stay in their homes until May 1. It’s one of the most aggressive orders a U.S. state has issued since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“All public and private gatherings of any size are prohibited,” Whitmer said at a news conference Friday.

The order has been the subject of criticism for apparent loopholes and inconsistencies, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Though Michigan residents cannot visit their own cottages, residents from neighboring states can visit their vacation homes in Michigan. And while the state’s scope of nonessential items is broad — including goods such as paint and garden equipment — it also allowed the purchase of lottery tickets.

“These businesses are essential — to us,” Terressa Carson, a Michigan resident who relies on her home garden for produce told the Free Press.

Whitmer said the state took aggressive action considering it has the third highest number of cases in the nation and continues to see more each day. As of Saturday morning, the state has reported 22,783 cases and 1,281 deaths.

“Michigan has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’re still on the upswing,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families.”

Detroit Free Press reports Michigan State residents can’t travel to their Up North cottages, but Illinois residents who own one in Michigan apparently can.

In-store purchases of Michigan Lottery tickets are still permitted, but buying a can of paint or a bag of seeds is off limits.

Though many Michigan residents applaud Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extended and expanded “stay home” order, handed down Thursday, plenty of them are questioning the inconsistencies and others are outright opposed to the new travel restrictions.

At least two Capitol protests were announced and Republican lawmakers stepped up their warnings Friday about the impact on Michigan’s economy, which has tanked amid the coronavirus pandemic and measures enacted to control the spread of the virus.

Beginning Saturday morning, previously permitted travel between two Michigan residences will end, including jumping in the car to visit a friend, or even walking across the street to watch TV with a neighbor. Exceptions include purposes such as caring for a relative, an elderly friend or a pet, visiting a nursing home or similar facility, attending a funeral with no more than 10 people, or complying with a court order related to child custody.

“I don’t think that’s right,” said Hal Hughes, 88, a retired manufactured home salesman in Plymouth. “You should be able to visit who you want to visit.”

Hughes said he can’t understand how the state has imposed still more restrictions on the movement of people and the sale of nonessential goods, without shutting down in-store lottery sales.

“You can’t go visit your friends. You can’t buy seeds … but you can sneak out and buy lottery tickets,” Hughes said. “I don’t understand it, unless it’s hypocritical greed.”

The state is encouraging Michiganders to buy their lottery tickets online and has cautioned merchants about letting people congregate around lottery terminals in violation of social distancing guidelines, but in-store sales continue. Lottery proceeds largely support K-12 education.

Though the new order prohibits trips from a Michigan residence to a Michigan cottage, travel between states is still permitted, and by the words of the order, only “individuals currently living within the State of Michigan,” but not residents living in other states, are subject to the order. That would suggest that residents of other states who own cottages Up North can continue to visit, unless banned by a “stay home” order in their own state.