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Gov. Whitmer lays out criteria for re-opening Michigan, looks to extend State of Emergency

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it’s time to start re-engaging Michigan’s economy as the COVID-19 outbreak is plateauing in the state.

Following her decision to allow landscapers to get back to work last week, the governor says construction and outdoor businesses will likely be next. The governor says she’s loosening restrictions on commercial and residential construction.

But Whitmer says restarting Michigan’s economy is not as easy as flipping a switch with the threat of a second wave of coronavirus infections remaining.

“I will be guided by the data. Not artificial timelines," she said. "If we move forward and everything looks OK for a few weeks, we can look to expanding activity on the next level.”

The governor announced the state will be divided into eight regions, and data about how people get to work and how likely they are to spread COVID-19 based on workplaces will be considered when re-opening. Whitmer says what other states are doing isn’t right for Michigan.

"It is making sure we’ve got a policy that makes sense for Michigan, that will keep Michigan workers, and Michigan families, and Michigan health care systems and Michigan businesses able to continue to take the next step,” she said.

Whitmer did not announce a timeline for when she would allow industries to reopen, but shared the state’s criteria for which industries and regions it'll allow to re-open. Whitmer says geographic and workplace risk will help guide which businesses will be allowed to reopen.

The governor also plans to ask the Legislature to extend Michigan's State of Emergency for another 28 days. The Republican-dominated legislature has currently extended her emergency declaration through the end of the month, and lawmakers are expected to vote this week on whether or not to renew it again.

“The emergency powers that I have as Governor do not depend on an extension from the legislature. But the protections for our healthcare workers do. And so, it’s better for everyone if we work together to get this right, and that’s precisely what I am trying to do.”

Michigan Radio listeners, readers, and reporters are rising to the challenge every day. If you can, please support essential journalism during this crisis.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.
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