Lowes's ordered to close garden center

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Benton Township Police Chief Brian Smit has ordered Lowe’s to stop selling non-essential items out of its store, including from the store’s garden center.

“We’ve gotten complaints of crowding, people not keeping a social distance. It could be dangerous to the public health,” he said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered residents to stay home and businesses to only sell essential items to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with patients.

Smit said the store was given a formal cease and desist letter Saturday. A manager at the Benton Township Lowe’s said she was not authorized to comment on the matter.

Smit said officers have talked with other businesses that were still selling non-essential items, but the department hasn’t given out any other formal letters.

“We’ve had compliance on many, so I haven’t had to issue any other letters at this point,” he said.

He said some businesses have started limiting how many people can be in the store at one time.

“We appreciate that. It’s a good step,” he said. “... We’re asking for voluntary compliance. It’s for the public’s safety as well as their own.”

While the governor’s stay-at-home executive order is in place, home improvement stores are only allowed to supply goods to the general public that are “necessary to maintain and improve the safety, sanitation and essential operations of a residence,” and should have as few employees as needed to support those sales, according to a news release from Attorney General Dana Nessel.

“Willful violations of the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order can result in a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail for each offense,” the release states.

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