“Stay Home, Stay Safe”: When Leaving Your Home Becomes a Crime


by Attorney Amy Grauman, Attorney at Avanti Law Group

On March 23, 2020, the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, issued Executive Order 2020-21, forcing all Michigan residents to stay in their homes to minimize the spread of COVID-19. This order remains in effect from March 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. through April 13, 2020 at 11:59 pm. 

While Michigan residents both feared or welcomed the new order, many of us were left with more questions than answers. What exactly does “Shelter in Place” mean? Is this new order a Quarantine? What, if any, are the exceptions? Many wonder whether the order will allow Michiganders to do basic everyday activities such as visiting a second residence, taking a trip to the grocery store, or taking the family dog for a walk. The answer to all of those questions is yes!

The order is not a quarantine, it is simply a protective measure to slow the spread of the virus and to allow the State extra time to prepare for the needs of the sick that have COVID-19. Thankfully, there are exceptions to this order, and many of them allow Michiganders to carry on with their daily activities without the threat of criminal liability. Notwithstanding this order, you can:

  1. Travel between home/residences (even across state borders); 
  2. Transport children according to a court order or direction by the police;
  3. Go out to participate in certain outdoor activities;
  4. Go to work if you’re designated as a critical employee of critical infrastructure or necessary to conduct minimum business operations;
  5. Perform certain necessary government activities;
  6. Go to the doctor or pick-up prescriptions.
  7. Shop for groceries, take-out food, gasoline, medicine, needed medical supplies, etc;
  8. Care for children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, the vulnerable, family members, etc;
  9. Visit an individual under the care of a healthcare or residential care facility; 
  10. Attend legal proceedings or hearings for essential or emergency purposes as ordered by a court;
  11. Work or volunteer in an industry that provides the necessities of life to the needy. 

Michigan residents are not able to exploit the exceptions. For example, you must first seek delivery to the maximum extent possible prior to obtaining household goods and supplies. It is also expected that if you’re engaging in outdoor activities, you will obey social distancing mandates. If you are caught willfully violating this order, you could be charged with a misdemeanor. Thus, unless you’re covered by one of the exceptions, you should heed the warning and stay home for your own safety and the safety of others. 

This law is a preventative measure that will hopefully slow the spread of this disease.