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Furloughed Detroit workers happy to be back on the job after restrictions on outdoor work lifted

‘The employers are happy,’ Jacob Fawaz said

DETROIT – Hundreds of furloughed city workers tasked with maintaining parks and streets were back on the job Monday after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer eased restrictions on outdoor work.

READ: ‘Not out of the woods yet’: Michigan Gov. Whitmer provides update on state’s COVID-19 response

“It feels great. I know the employers are happy, they’ve been chomping at the bit to get back, providing service to the residents and the city,” Jacob Fawaz, with GSD Ground, said. “I’m happy about it too. We go all winter waiting to get back out to cut grass, essentially. So -- this is what we all enjoy to do, and take pride in.”

Crews, however, are still subject to the state’s social distancing guidelines even when most of their days are spent on or in personal vehicles. Workers said they were recently tested for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and they have their temperatures tested each morning using forehead thermometers. Each worker is also required to fill out a symptom questionnaire and must have it approved before being assigned to a part of the city

May 4, 2020 -- Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 43,950; Death toll now at 4,135

They are only allowed three people to a truck between parks. The number of passengers per truck is normally five. One worker said they even try to be socially distant inside vehicles, staggering the seats and rows they sit in while driving.

The lawnmowers were also a welcome sight for park-goers and neighbors who have been waiting for warmer weather.

“They have to get the heads of the dandelions otherwise we're inundated with seeds,” walker Mary Ellen Clark said. Clark was out with two friends for their daily walk around Peterson Park on Detroit’s west side.

“The nice part about it is just about every year they cut the grass at this time right before Mother’s Day so when people come out to celebrate they have a beautiful park to do it,” she said.