Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is considering extending the state’s lockdown orders because of protesters who flooded the state capital last week in a car-bound protest against her restrictive coronavirus-related regulations.
The Washington Examiner reports that Whitmer called the protest “irresponsible” in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last week and claimed that the protests, which largely abided by social distancing guidelines, put Michiganders at greater risk of contracting the virus.
She then threatened to impose further restrictions on Michigan residents in order to curb the protest’s (unknown) effects.
“We might have to actually think about extending stay-at-home orders, which is supposedly what they were protesting,” Whitmer quipped.
She then called the protest “a political rally,” implying that the demonstration was motivated by support for President Donald Trump and not her unreasonable and often arbitrary coronavirus restrictions.
“When you see a, you know, a political rally — that’s what it was yesterday — a political rally like that, where people aren’t wearing masks, and they’re in close quarters, and they’re touching one another, you know that that’s precisely what makes this kind of a disease drag out and expose more people,” Whitmer said.
A handful of protesters did exit their cars for an in-person protest, but media accounts from the demonstration report that the vast majority of those who clogged the streets of Lansing, Michigan, remained in their cars, practicing precisely the kind of social distancing Whitmer is stressing.
Whitmer has, of course, instituted restrictions on Michigan residents that go far beyond those in place in neighboring states. In addition to shelter-in-place orders, which Whitmer put into effect late — nearly a week after Illinois, and days after Ohio — Whitmer has banned the sale of “non-essential items” and barred Michigan residents from most outdoor activities.
In some cases, the orders are so sweepingly restrictive that they become vague, leaving residents confused as to which actions and products are actually banned.
Residents cannot purchase seeds or other gardening and home improvement items (but can purchase lottery tickets and marijuana), they cannot travel to other residences, and they cannot fish or travel on in-state lakes if they have a motorized boat (canoes, kayaks, and other non-motorized vehicles are acceptable). Michigan residents can, of course, obtain abortions, which Whitmer called “life sustaining” in a mind-boggling explanation last week, and out-of-state residents can travel within the state of Michigan to summer homes and vacation locales.
Whitmer defended her actions in an interview on CNN over the weekend.
“Michigan right now has the third-highest death count in the country; we are the 10th largest state, as you can deduce this means we have a uniquely hard issue going on here,” Whitmer told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “It is disproportionately hurting our state and that is why we need to take a uniquely aggressive action to protect people.”
The orders do have an expiration date — April 30th — and Whitmer, part of a group of midwestern governors working together to restart the regional economy, has said that the state will begin to “open up” as soon as May 1st.