Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday extended her stay-at-home order through May 15 while relaxing restrictions so some businesses can reopen and the public can participate in more outdoor activities like golf and motorized boating.
Whitmer, a Democrat whose national profile has risen in recent months, has been under heavy pressure from Republicans and conservatives in her state to ease the stay-at-home guidelines, which are among the strictest in the nation.
“We will consider this the preliminary stage of economic reengagement,” said Whitmer at a press conference Friday, adding that these changes will be dependent on the coming days. “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.”
The Democratic governor’s order says people are now required to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as grocery stores if they can medically tolerate it.
The order will also allow landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops to resume operating, subject to social-distancing rules. Big-box retailers will no longer have to close off garden centers and areas dedicated to selling paint and carpet.
The new executive order is designed to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. It immediately replaces one that was scheduled to expire on April 30.
New restrictions on travel and outside activities for the public have also been eased. Individuals will now be allowed to travel between their residences, though it isn’t encouraged. People will be allowed to use motorized boats and play golf (but not golf carts) in adherence with social distancing protocols. State parks will remain open under the order, which have been accessible during the health emergency.
The new order comes the same day as Michigan Republican lawmakers are reportedly convening to consider two bills to scale back Whitmer’s executive authority given to her under the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act.
The Democrat has faced demonstrations against her closure orders, both at the state capitol in Lansing, and most recently at her home.
The first bill will look to stop the governor’s power to declare emergencies in times of crisis. The second bill will look to limit the length of any emergency declaration by the governor from 28 to 14 days.
Speaking to reporters on Friday Whitmer reiterated her vow to veto any bill that would repeal executive authority from her office.
“I am not going to sign any bill that takes any power from me or any future governor. The powers of the executive office are incredibly important especially in times of crisis, where lives are on the line,” she said. If the governor vetoes a bill, the state legislature may override that veto with a two-thirds vote from each house.
Michigan currently has more than 35,000 cases of coronavirus with nearly 3,000 deaths, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.
Later on Friday, Michigan Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, a Republican, announced the appointment of five state representatives to the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on the Covid-19 Pandemic. Chatfield appointed three Republicans and two Democrats.
The committee is expected to review Whitmer’s response to the coronavirus. In a news release, Chatfield said the committee will “hold state government to higher standards” and “deliver transparency.”
“The Legislature is the voice of the people, and the people of this state have very serious questions and concerns about how this pandemic is being handled by state officials. We hear about it every day from our constituents, families, friends and neighbors. The people we represent deserve answers, and this bipartisan committee will work hard every day to get them,” Chatfield said in a statement.
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican, will also appoint five representatives. CNN has reached out to Shirkey’s office for comment.
This story has been updated to include additional developments.
CNN’s Bill Kirkos contributed to this story.