Gretchen Whitmer - Michigan's Governor

Michigan Executive Order Bans Travel Between Residences

Starting Saturday, April 11, Michigan residents will not be allowed to travel between their downstate home and northern cottage, cabin or trailer. This executive order comes with extended guidelines and extends the Stay Home, Stay Safe issued March 24th which was due to expire April 13th. Michigan Executive Order 2020-42 limits gatherings and travel and requires all workers who are not necessary to sustain or protect life to stay home. The new order is in effect until May 1st.

“This doesn’t mean everything will go back to normal on May 1,” Gov. Whitmer continued. “But based on the data we have right now, this is the appropriate window for an extension. It will take time to safely and responsibly re-open the economy, which is why we will continue to provide critical unemployment support and assistance to our small businesses during this challenging time. We will get through this if we all continue to do our part.”

The governor did not act unilaterally. Republican Senate majority leader Mike Shirkey sponsored a Concurrent Resolution that was passed by the Michigan House and Senate. The resolution approved an extension to the state of emergency and state of disaster declared across the State of Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of April 9th, the Michigan death toll tallied 1,076. Michigan has the third most COVID-19 cases in the U.S. That number currently stands at 21,504.

Travel Restrictions Put Into Place

Highway Traffic

Residents already in their second home may stay. People may also travel to another residence in the state through April 10th. Starting Saturday the 11th, such travel will be deemed unnecessary until the order expires on May 1st.

The order does allow those currently outside of Michigan to; “To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.” Thus, this order does not prevent southern snowbirds to return to their northern Michigan summer residences. The order also allows Michigan citizens, “To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.”

In 1995 a study by Michigan State University researchers, found second homes are numerous in northern Michigan. Summer homes constitute 16%-33% of the houses in Huron and Sanilac counties in the Thumb, to as high as 34%- 53% in Iosco and Alcona in Michigan’s northeast. In the 2010 U.S. census, it was reported that Michigan had over 235,000 homes denoted as being secondary. This means the cottage or cabin is usually vacant except for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use.

Business Affected, No Advertising or Renting Vacation Properties

Port Austin Farm Market Hanging Baskets

The Michigan Executive order upset many, including three western Michigan lawmakers who wanted an exception for nursery, greenhouse and landscaping services. Radio station WHTC in Holland reported that state Senator Roger Victory stated, “Allowing our greenhouses to sell flowers, shrubs, and saplings safely via curbside pickup and online ordering will not only save an entire industry from certain bankruptcy, but it will also greatly improve the mental health of every Michigander sheltering in their home. If all you see out your window is overgrown lawns and barren flowerbeds, ‘staying home and staying safe’ will become more and more daunting and depressing.” Big box stores have been criticized for allowing the sale of landscape mulch and fertilizer under the designation of essential services.

The Michigan Executive Order also curtails those with rental properties.

“No one shall advertise or rent a short-term vacation property except as necessary to assist in housing a health care professional or volunteer aiding in the response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

All individuals who leave their home or place of residence must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household.

An official copy of the executive order can be seen here.

Sitting Out the Pandemic in a Michigan Cottage

Will Remote Workers Flock To Their Cottages To Sit Out The Michigan Coronavirus? – Will northern Michigan see a spike in cottages opening up early this year as a hide-a-way for remote workers? The governor’s executive orders may impact the summer residents.

Michigan’s Experience With Pandemics – Over the past 100 years, the United States and Michigan have been hit with four influenza pandemics. Of all of these, the 1918 outbreak was the most serious in terms of mortality and lasted two-years.

Grand Rapids Presss Oct 18 1918

Whitmer Is Not The First Governor To Shut Down Michigan During A Pandemic – 102-year years ago, Michigan governor Albert Sleeper, a Republican from the Thumb Region, was faced with a similar health catastrophe. The Spanish Flu was a global pandemic that started the spring of 1918. The virus was raging in Michigan. Every county had reported cases.

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Michael Hardy

Mike Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. It started in 2009 as a fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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