Whitmer expects most Michigan residents to obey stay home order, but fines possible

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LANSING (WJRT) (3/23/2020) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer believes most Michigan residents will obey the state at home order voluntarily, but fines are possible for businesses that skirt the directive.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer outlines her "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order for Michigan residents in place for the next three weeks.

She issued an order Monday requiring residents to remain in their homes for three weeks, except for limited reasons, and all nonessential businesses to close.

“This is not a recommendation, this is an order and we take it very seriously," Whitmer said. "This is about the public health of our people.”

RELATED: Gov. Whitmer issues statewide shelter in place order for 3 weeks

The order is designed to slow the spread of coronavirus, which increased by nearly 300 cases Monday to a statewide total of more than 1,300.

“We have a moment to stem the crisis that we see unfolding before us and it is going to take all of us to take this action seriously, and that’s why this order is so important right now,” Whitmer said.

Residents are still allowed to leave home for essential products and services, including groceries or getting takeout from a restaurant. Whitmer called the state's food supply chain "robust" to meet everyone's needs.

RELATED: See what Michigan residents are allowed, not allowed to do under shelter in place order

She said any businesses caught violating the order likely would be closed and face fines from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The amount of possible fines was not disclosed.

“Don’t play fast and loose with what is essential and what is not. Don’t try to skirt the rules," Whitmer said. "If you’re not an essential business, you need to close and you need to protect your employees."

She is confident that the "vast majority of people" in Michigan "are doing to do the right thing" and remain in their homes as directed over the next three weeks.

“At this time, what we are asking is for people to recognize this is an order. They must comply for their own health and the safety of others and for the long-term health of our economy," Whitmer said.

However, she denied that Monday's order constitutes martial law. There won't be police checkpoints and the Michigan National Guard is not involved with any law enforcement functions related to coronavirus.

"We have confidence that when Michiganders recognize how serious this is, if you’ve really been paying attention or you’re now suddenly starting to pay attention, we all have to do our part,” Whitmer said.

The National Guard has been called up on a strictly humanitarian mission moving supplies of food and medical equipment around the state. They also are helping set up temporary health care facilities.