Michigan Governor Admits Some COVID-19 Restrictions Didn’t ‘Make a Lot of Sense’

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
March 13, 2023Politics
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Michigan Governor Admits Some COVID-19 Restrictions Didn’t ‘Make a Lot of Sense’
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer takes questions from reporters after speaking at a rally at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, Mich., on Nov. 6, 2022. (Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer admitted over the weekend that Democrat leadership in the state imposed more COVID-19 lockdown measures than were actually needed.

In April 2020, Whitmer issued an executive order that barred most stores from selling gardening supplies, including seeds and plants, to Americans growing their own fruits and vegetables.

In a sit-down with CNN’s Chris Wallace on March 12, Whitmer was asked about Michigan’s tough lockdown policies, which were some of the nation’s most strict.

“There were moments where, you know, we had to make some decisions that in retrospect don’t make a lot of sense, right? If you went to the hardware store, you could go to the hardware store but we didn’t want people to be congregating around the garden supplies,” Whitmer said.

“People said ‘oh, she’s outlawed seeds.’ It was February in Michigan, no one was planting anyway,” she continued. “But that being said, some of those policies I look back and think, you know, maybe that was a little more than what we needed to do.”

On April 9, 2020, Whitmer’s office published a list on the state’s website that included items Michigan officials deemed “not necessary to sustain or protect life,” and thus could not be sold during the height of the pandemic.

The order stated that companies had to block areas of stores through various means or remove nonessential items, including gardening items, but also many other goods such as carpet or flooring materials, furniture, and paint.

Just weeks after Whitmer imposed the statewide controversial ban, the order was rescinded due to widespread backlash, including from the Institute for Justice.

In a letter (pdf), the non-profit law firm criticized the governor’s “unconstitutional prohibition” for “impeding the rights of the many Michigan families who seek to grow their own food.”

“The order correctly recognizes ‘food and agriculture’ as ‘critical infrastructure’ and accordingly permits grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores, and other food-related businesses to continue sales, subject to reasonable health and safety restrictions,” the letter reads.

“At the same time, however, the order appears to prohibit sales of plants—including vegetable, fruit, and herb plants,” it added. “That differential treatment—permitting grocery stores to sell vegetables, fruits, and herbs, but prohibiting nurseries and garden centers from selling plants so that Michiganders can grow their own vegetables, fruits, and herbs—does not make sense.”

Whitmer’s sweeping order also included a ban on travel from one residence to another residence, including vacation properties, rental properties, or second properties inside Michigan.

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