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Michigan Gov. Whitmer extends and eases stay-at-home order that drew protests

The governor has come under fire from Trump and conservatives for strict measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who faced backlash for her strict stay-at-home mandate, on Friday extended the order until May 15 but eased some restrictions on public activities as the state's coronavirus cases stabilize.

"But it depends on you," Whitmer, a Democrat, said during her daily briefing. "If we continue to see our numbers decline, we can responsibly consider additional steps we can take. If we see an increase, we may have to be nimble enough to go backward, on occasion."

Michigan has had nearly 3,000 deaths and more than 35,000 cases related to the coronavirus, behind only New York and New Jersey. Whitmer has been under intense criticism from President Donald Trump and conservatives for her the stay-at-home order she issued in April, prompting protests and petitions.

The new order, Whitmer said, eases those restrictions. It allows in-state travel, motor boating and golfing, but golf carts cannot be used.

"While it's understandable to be lured by the phenomenal beauty of this great state and hit the road, we know that our rural hospitals are not equipped to meet an influx of people who may bring or spread the virus," Whitmer said, urging residents to continue to follow social distancing rules.

Big-box retailers no longer have to close off garden centers and areas dedicated to selling carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries or paint. Landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries, and bike repair shops can also resume operating, but all are subject to social distancing rules.

The order also allows stores selling non-essential items to reopen, but only using curbside pickup and delivery.

Whitmer also said that people are now required to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, such as grocery stores. Employers must also provide non-medical grade masks to their in-person employees. She asked the public to use cloth face coverings and reserve medical-grade masks for health care workers.

"The overarching message today is still the same, we all need to do our part, and staying home is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19," she said.