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Closures, transit, gatherings: How Detroit is dealing with coronavirus

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All the latest information on the city’s response to COVID-19

Photo by Michelle Gerard

As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, people in Detroit and Michigan have begun taking precautions like social distancing, event cancellations, and panic shopping.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a State of Emergency and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced a series of measures to curb transmissions of the novel coronavirus.

Below are updates about events, institutions, housing, and more in Detroit. We’ve focused our information on public spaces, such as parks and cultural centers, public transit, and major events. For more information on the impact on the restaurant industry and schools, follow Eater Detroit and Chalkbeat Detroit.


Michigan residents have been directed to remain indoors. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order temporarily suspending all in-person operations that are “not necessary to sustain or protect life.” One of many such “stay-at-home” orders around the country, people can leave their home only under limited conditions or face a misdemeanor. It will remain in effect until at least April 13.

“This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities,” Whitmer said in a statement.

You can read our explainer on the order here. If you’re new to working remotely, here are some tips from Curbed’s staff on how to be productive.

City Council is on recess until April 27. A public hearing about the city’s budget will take place on Monday, May 4th at 5 p.m. Dates and times are subject to change.

Most public transit is free. Public transit agencies in the Detroit area have been taking preventative measures to minimize contagion, such as conducting additional cleanings in vehicles and at stations.

All DDOT and SMART buses will offer free bus rides for the duration of the outbreak. To minimize contact further, riders have to board and exit through the rear door (except those using a wheelchair). There have also been some schedule changes, so be sure to check ahead of time if a line is still running.

Read a more comprehensive update on public transit in Southeast Michigan here.

Moratoriums placed on eviction, tax foreclosure, and water shutoffs. Out of a concern for public health and because so many people have lost their sources of income, various municipalities have put a hold on potential loss of home and utilities.

Whitmer signed another executive order halting evictions for the duration of the outbreak. Wayne County said it won’t foreclose on any homes in 2020. And the city of Detroit is suspending water shutoffs and trying to restoring service to residents who had it turned off. DTE Energy said it would suspend service shutoff to eligible low-income customers through April 30.

The U.S.–Canada border is closed. Similar to the “stay-at-home” order, only essential travel and trade is being permitted.

Museums suspend public operations. Even before Whitmer’s executive order, closures were announced for every major museum in the city, as well as the Detroit Public Library system. Though you can the view digital collections of many of these institutions for free.

Eastern Market will continue its Saturday markets. “People have to eat,” Dan Carmody, president of the Eastern Market Partnership, told Curbed Detroit. “We’ve been Detroit’s pantry and grocer since 1891. We have a role to fulfill and we intend to fulfill it.”

The market is taking additional precautions by prohibiting food samples, increasing surface cleaning, leaving shed doors open to avoid unnecessary contact, and distributing signs urging customers not to touch produce. Read more about Eastern Market’s decision to stay open here.

City of Detroit parks remain open. Though recreation centers are closed and the city is encouraging visitors to refrain from using high-touch park amenities like playground or exercise equipment.

Most businesses have closed. Prior to the “stay-at-home” order, most businesses had already complied. Little Caesars Arena had closed for all concerts and sports games—both the NHL and NBA have suspended their seasons. Home openers for the the Detroit Tigers (Comerica Park) and Detroit City FC (Keyworth Stadium) have been postponed. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Opera House, Carr Center, Redford Theatre, and Fisher Theatre had already suspended performances for the foreseeable future.

To offset the substantial financial losses, various funds and grants have been launched. Bedrock Detroit, one of the largest commercial landlords in the city, has suspended rent for all its small business tenants for the next three months.

Numerous events have been cancelled or postponed. The Detroit Spring & Garden Show, which was to be the first time Detroit has hosted an event of this kind in 17 years, has been postponed. Both the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Marche du Nain Rouge were cancelled. The Freep Film Festival and Movement electronic music festival are postponed.

Most recently, two of the city’s biggest annual events have announced that they will be canceled: the North American International Auto Show and Belle Isle Grand Prix.

This is a developing story—more information will be added as it becomes available.