Whitmer Admits Her COVID Restrictions Didn't 'Make a Lot of Sense'

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Getty Images)
March 14, 2023

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer (D.) admitted Sunday that her COVID-19 lockdown orders—some of the strictest in the country—were excessive and "in retrospect don't make a lot of sense."

Whitmer's strict lockdown, one of the longest-lasting of any state, forcibly closed schools and many local businesses, deeming items like hardware supplies and gardening seeds "nonessential" but allowing the in-person sale of alcohol and lottery tickets, as well as curbside sales of marijuana. Michiganders faced penalties if they left their homes for "nonessential" activities like visiting friends and family.

"There were moments where we had to make some decisions that in retrospect don’t make a lot of sense, right? ... We didn’t want people to be congregating around the garden supplies," Whitmer told CNN on March 12.

"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 maybe that was a little more than what we needed to do."

Thanks to the Democratic governor's tough lockdowns, Michigan lost over a million jobs and 3,000 restaurants closed down by April 2021. Extended remote learning caused 20 percent more third-graders to fall a grade behind in Michigan public schools.

When Whitmer's April 2020 executive order took effect, thousands of Michiganders protested at the state capitol and many pushed to recall the governor. The backlash led to the rescinding of the initial order, but Whitmer continued to defend her policies at the time.

"I understand the incredible hardship that people are going through. The worry about your job, the depression of isolation … the confusion of just trying to figure out why you can buy a lottery ticket and not seeds. I get it. It's tough," Whitmer said in April 2020. "But those days where we can resume some normalcy, they are on the horizon if we keep doing what we need to do to get past this moment."