LANSING — After Friday, Michigan residents will no longer be able to jump in the car — or cross the street — to visit friends and relatives inside the state, or to go to the cottage Up North, with limited exceptions.
That is one of the major changes in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “stay home” order, issued Thursday, which also extends the expiration of the order to May 1.
Until now, travel between two Michigan residences has been permitted.
Beginning Saturday morning, that will end, except for 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.
“All public and private gatherings of any size are prohibited,” Whitmer said at a news conference. “People can still leave the house for outdoor activities,” and outdoor “recreational activities are still permitted as long as they’re taking place outside of six feet from anyone else.”
People will still be able to travel to other residences outside the state, but not to cottages or vacation rentals inside the state, the order says.
Terressa Carson, a resident of southeastern Clare County, north of Mt. Pleasant, said she likes the fact that the order would prohibit people from metro Detroit, where the virus is infecting people in large numbers, from staying at cottages in her area, where there are few cases.
“Our hospitals are ill-equipped to handle a surge,” Carson said.
However, Carson is angry over the closure of nurseries and garden centers. She said it is time for her to plant her peas, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots — food that she and her family will eat all winter. She can’t plant if those outlets are closed, she said.
“These businesses are essential — to us,” Carson said.
The new order creates a few oddities. For example, it is still OK to travel north to visit a state park, but not to go to a cottage or home, Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown confirmed.
Brown did not respond to a question about how some aspects of the travel restrictions will be enforced. Violating the order can bring a civil fine of up to $1,000.
Whitmer said at the news conference that strict measures are needed for another three weeks as the state attempts to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Michigan is facing two crises — one related to public health, and one economic, she said.
“If we don’t get the health crisis under control, the economic crisis will go on and on,” said.