Michigan's new stay-at-home order restricts access to gardening and home improvement sections in grocery stores

click to enlarge Michigan's new stay-at-home order restricts access to gardening and home improvement sections in grocery stores

If you were thinking of using this quarantine to do some home beautification, think again.

On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended Michigan's stay-at-home executive order, which is now in effect through April 30. In addition to extending the duration that nonessential businesses are to remain closed and Michigan residents are to remain at home, leaving only to pursue physical exercise or to shop for essential items, Thursday's extension also expanded other facets of the shutdown. The new executive order prohibits people from traveling for vacations, lowers maximum occupancy in stores, mandates designated social-distancing markers in high-traffic areas of stores, and limits access to nonessential items at stores.

“If you’re not buying food or medicine or other essential items, you should not be going to the store,” Whitmer said Thursday.

According to the order, stores that occupy more than 50,000 square feet and offer essential items can remain open, but will be forced to close off access to certain parts of the store, where items like gardening supplies, plant nurseries, house paint, flooring, and furniture are sold.

State Rep. Jim Lower, R-Greenville, is among those who are critical of the tightened restrictions, especially those pertaining to retail.

“As it stands now, stricter-than-average guidelines in our state are showing to have little impact on the number of cases,” Lower said. “We have the third most cases of any state.”

“Blocking off sections of stores is basically nonsense and will not help reduce the spread of the virus,” Lower added.

The Michigan Farm Bureau is also pushing back, pleading for Whitmer to clarify the extension to deem the sale of retail plants as essential infrastructure, especially if retailers agree to offer curbside delivery for these items, as they do with groceries and other essential products.

“For many growers, if they’re not allowed to sell the plants already growing in greenhouses, it will mean a complete loss and an entire year without income for both the owners and their employees,” MFB's horticulture specialist Audrey Sebolt says. “We’re hopeful Governor Whitmer will take the lead from Ohio Governor DeWine, who on April 2 designated retail garden centers as essential infrastructure.”

Sebolt estimates the industry has $580 million-$700 million in retail sales on the line, should growers be prevented from selling.

Under Governor Whitmer's current executive order, landscaping is not deemed an essential service.

Embattled Warren mayor Jim Fouts is also among those fighting back, saying he won't ticket those residents who hire lawn care services.

“I respectfully disagree with the interpretation that it’s not an essential service. I think it clearly is an essential service,” Fouts told WXYZ Action News. “I’ve received a number of calls from senior citizens, from people with special needs, they may be wheelchair-bound, a number of things — but they aren’t able to do their lawn.”

The city of Roseville's Police Department issued a statement via Facebook, saying that they consider basic landscaping services as essential to sustaining sanitary conditions, as not tending to overgrowth could result in stormwater system issues or rodent infestations. Residents will be allowed to mow their own lawns or hire a service to do so, but those contractors hired must comply with the executive order and CDC guidelines.

Currently, Michigan has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. More than 1,076 people in Michigan have died from the virus.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.
Scroll to read more Metro Detroit News articles


Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.