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Here's how Michigan's stay-at-home order will be enforced

Posted at 12:23 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 12:37:13-04

(WXYZ) — For the next three weeks, Governor Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order requires everyone in Michigan to stay home unless performing an essential task, like buying groceries or getting a prescription.

We've gotten a lot of questions from viewers about how the order will be enforced.

There are layers to enforcement and police say it starts with you.

If you are working at an essential business, get creative to make changes that ensure social distancing. Brainstorm with your boss or your human resources officer. Adjust how you operate in order to maintain social distance.

If you are a business owner, police say, ask yourself honestly: Are you really essential to sustaining or protecting life?

Grocery stores, pharmacies hospitals – those are pretty cut and dry, but there are exceptions to the stay home order that may seem murky. And what if there are those who try to defy it?

Since last week, many people transitioned to working from home; 1st Lt Michael Shaw with Michigan State Police says they've seen the number of calls go down by 50%, which frees troopers up to help out local police departments if needed. Detroit Police, for example, currently has nearly 300 officers in quarantine.

At 7 Action News, we are considered an essential service, but still, we are reducing our own in-person contact. Instead of conducting interviews face to face, we chatted with viewers on Facebook.

Viewer Roberta says, "There are way too many places still open."

Rachel says, "Too many businesses think they’re essential."

Shaw says MSP is here to help.

"Sometimes it’s just an education point, they may think that they’re an essential service and they’re not," Shaw says.

Of an estimated 4 million workers in the state, only about a quarter can reasonably claim exemption under the current order, according to numbers released by Bridge Magazine.

For those violating the order, a conversation is the first step. Police say they hope it’s the only enforcement step needed, for everyone’s sake.

"If we keep going out unnecessarily, this virus is going to continue to grow," says Shaw.

Law enforcement really wants everyone to take personal responsibility, get creative if necessary and follow the order.

However, viewer Denise on Facebook says, "My son's work won’t close, they said they will pay the fines."

Colin says, "I’d love to see how the cops are going to enforce this."

Shaw says they don't plan to make arrests, but they will report to the attorney general.

"If you’re a business that needs to be licensed and you violate this order and you lose your license, well, guess what? You don’t open ever again. So it’s a lot more than a $500 fine," says Shaw.

If you want to report an order being violated, do not call 911. Call the non-emergency police or dispatch line and file a report.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.