LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced she has reopened manufacturing, including the Big Three automakers -- Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler -- at the beginning of next week.
Manufacturing workers can return to the job Monday (May 11), Whitmer said. This announcement comes after she loosened restrictions on landscapers, golf and motorized boating.
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Manufacturing companies are required to take steps to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19, which includes daily entry screenings for everyone entering the facility, a questionnaire covering symptoms and exposure to people with possible COVID-19 and temperature checks as soon as no-touch thermometers can be obtained.
Companies must also create dedicated entry points at every facility and suspend entry of all non-essential in-person visits, including tours.
“Throughout this worldwide crisis, Gov. Whitmer has been a leading voice to make sure that scientific data and the health and safety of all Michiganders was the priority in managing pandemic decisions," UAW President Rory Gamble said in a statement. "Gov. Whitmer has at all times been inclusive and focused on building consensus to do what is right for the health and safety of UAW members and all of Michigan’s working men and women. The UAW will continue to have dialogue and aggressively pursue all avenues over the health and safety of our members, their families and their communities as we cautiously go into our next phase of battling this pandemic while worksites reopen.”
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“Gov. Whitmer has brought together leaders in business and labor to ensure our workers can return to the job safely," said John Walsh, President and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association. "The safety of our workers is our top priority and I am confident that Michigan manufacturers are prepared to deliver on the worker protections included in today’s order. We believe the manufacturing industry has a big role to play in Michigan’s economic recovery and we’re ready to lead the way. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the governor to bring the manufacturing industry back up to full strength.”
Manufacturing facilities must train workers on how COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person, signs and symptoms of COVID-19, steps they have to take to notify the business about signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and the use of personal protective equipment.
All businesses in the state -- including manufacturers -- will require masks when workers can’t consistently maintain six feet of separation from others, and consider face shields for those who cannot consistently maintain three feet of separation from other workers.
Stay-at-home order extended
Even though manufacturing plants are set to reopen soon, Whitmer extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order an additional two weeks. It is now in effect until May 28.
The governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” states that up to May 28, Michiganders can’t leave their homes except to run critical errands, engage in safe outdoor activities or to go to specified jobs.
Whitmer’s first stay-at-home order, issued to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) was in effect through the end of April. It was extended until May 15, and on Thursday, she put it in line with her current state of emergency.
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“This is good news for our state, our businesses, and our working families,” Whitmer said. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but this is an important step forward on our MI Safe Start plan to re-engage our economy safely and responsibly. As we continue to phase in sectors of our economy, I will keep working around the clock to ensure our businesses adopt best practices to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19. When we all keep doing our part, we can reduce the risk of a second wave and re-engage our economy safely and responsibly.”
Restrictions loosened during last extension
When she last extended her stay-at-home order, Whitmer lifted restrictions on some businesses linked to outdoor activities, such as golf and motorized boating, can reopen.
The measure immediately replaced the one that was scheduled to expire. Michigan has more than 4,000 deaths related to COVID-19.
People are now required, rather than encouraged, to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as grocery stores if they can medically tolerate it. Employers must provide non-medical grade masks to their in-person employees.
Landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops can resume operating, subject to social-distancing rules. Stores selling nonessential supplies can reopen for curbside pickup and delivery. Big-box retailers no longer have to close off garden centers and areas dedicated to selling paint, flooring and carpet.
Whitmer said people with multiple in-state homes can resume traveling between them, though it is strongly discouraged.
“The vast majority of people in this state are doing the right things. We’ve seen the curve get pushed down,” Whitmer said. “I think it’s appropriate to reevaluate along the way. At this point we feel like’s good to have our first wave of reengagement in this way.”
The order continues to prohibit in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life, with exemptions for various critical jobs. Restaurants remain closed to dine-in customers under a separate measure, and bars, movie theaters, gyms and other sports facilities also are still shuttered.