How businesses across Metro Detroit are responding to spread of COVID delta variant

Gov. Whitmer says delta variant won’t lead to mandates, forced closures

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the COVID delta variant won’t return Michigan to statewide mask mandates or business closures.

SOUTHFIELD, Mich.Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the COVID delta variant won’t return Michigan to statewide mask mandates or business closures.

The responsibility to cope with the coronavirus falls to businesses. They have to decide which steps to take to keep employees and customers safe.

Many businesses are returning to previous restrictions for guidance. The Star Deli in Southfield has a sign indicating that customers won’t receive service if they’re not wearing a mask. They said it’s about everyone’s safety.

Wendy Block of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce said they’re getting lots of calls and the advice they’re giving is simple.

“You need to make the best decision that is best for your workplace. Recognizing you do have this general duty to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace to all employees,” Block said. “I think there’s just a lot of emotions wrapped up with this roller coaster that we call COVID. This is going to be delicate here for the next coming weeks and months.”

The Michigan Retailers Association released the following statement:

“Michigan Retailers Association is reminding its members of their obligation to keep employees safe but it’s up to each retailer to set their own store-specific policies for customers and employees. Retailers piloted COVID safety measures last spring and we are confident they will adjust their policies as needed to keep employees protected, while keeping their doors open safely for customers.

Many retailers continue to request employees wear masks, perform more regular store cleaning, and are keeping barriers between employees and customers. There are also multiple ways for customers to shop depending on the customer’s level of comfort, including curbside or home delivery. We’d encourage any shoppers uncomfortable shopping in person to call and see what other options are available. Most retailers won’t turn away a sale and will find a way to accommodate anyone uncomfortable shopping in person.

Several retailers located in higher-risk areas are changing their front-of-store signage more strongly encouraging customers to wear masks again. Some retailers may choose to set a more strict standard than others and they have the right to do so. We hope customers will respect each retailer’s decision and will treat retail workers kindly.

While the state does not appear poised to reissue a mask mandate, we are carefully watching local health departments to see if they choose to issue local or county-level requirements as we saw last spring. Retail employees should not be tasked with becoming the mask police or the vaccination status police. We don’t want to see state or local mandates return because of the dangerous position it presents for retail employees. Employee safety is the top priority for our members and we do not want to see a repeat of the dangerous confrontations we saw last summer.”

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.