On March 23, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a stay-at-home order directing everyone in the state to remain indoors except to perform essential activities. Staying in your home is a critical component of slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and preventing hospitals from going over-capacity.
Despite the order, and the importance of adhering to it, most people will need to go outside at some point. Those who perform essential work, like in a hospital or grocery store, will need to commute. Almost everyone will need to go grocery shopping for themselves or someone else. Just getting some fresh air is a vital way of staying healthy, both physically and mentally.
But how can you safely get around Detroit and where can you go? Here are tips for navigating the city and minimizing the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Take basic precautions
Joshua Petrie, a research assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Heath, says that no matter where you go or how you get there, always do these two things: stay six feet away from other people and wash your hands.
Six feet is the distance at which it’s possible to exchange air droplets that may contain coronavirus from someone who’s infected through sneezing, coughing, or exhaling—beyond six feet the heavy droplets settle to the ground. And washing your hands kills bacteria cells containing coronavirus.
Petrie says driving your car, biking, or walking to a destination are all “relatively low risk” if you follow those two guidelines. Using public transit or a ride hailing service carries more risk, though can still be done by limiting the number of surfaces you touch.
He also says getting outside for a recreational run or walk is fine. “Just make sure to give people a wide berth.”
Dropping off groceries or medicine can also be done safely by coordinating with the other person and either leaving the goods at the front door or going inside and, again, maintaining six feet distance.
Petrie doesn’t think hand wipes are necessary for every public surface, though it couldn’t hurt. And he advises against face masks because there’s such a huge need for them in health care facilities, and also because people often use them incorrectly or think they’re protected and don’t follow the first two guidelines. (Though there is some disagreement about the efficacy of face masks.)
- All nonessential businesses: Though they can keep running as long as employees work from home.
- Restaurant dining rooms: Take-out and deliveries, however, are allowed—and even encouraged. (Eater Detroit has compiled a running list of restaurants, by neighborhood, of restaurants with expanded delivery service.)
- Museums: But many have extensive digital collections to browse.
- Entertainment venues
- Fitness centers
- Public transit: It’s free, but there have been significant schedule changes. See our guide to how Southeast Michigan public transit agencies have responded to coronavirus.
- City of Detroit parks: But the city is urging visitors to avoid the playground and exercise equipment.
- The RiverWalk
- Belle Isle: Though the Belle Isle Aquarium and Conservatory are both closed. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is keeping all state parks open for now.
- Grocery stores: Eater Detroit has a comprehensive list of hours of operation and drop-off guidelines for many of the city’s food stores.
- Eastern Market: It’s instituted a number of safety measures, including food drop-off options on Saturday and Tuesday.
- Doctor’s offices
- Food banks
- Gas stations
- Hardware stores