Auto showrooms and retail outlets return to work by appointment Tuesday

Not with a switch, but with a dial, it was Michigan's auto dealerships and retail outlets that were next on the list of businesses to reopen. 

And like every other industry before them, their economic re-engagement comes with a few extra rules. They'll sound familiar to businesses that have already reopened.

That means employees and customers should wear face masks, abide by social distancing rules, install physical barriers at checkout stations, enhance cleaning and sanitization of the business interior, and limit the number of people inside a business.

Some explicit rules as they relate to enclosed public spaces include limited occupancy of stores less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space to 25%. In more precise terms, stores must restrict customer floor space to just four people per 1,000 square feet. 

Like large grocery stores have already deployed, there must be two hours per week dedicated to shopping time for vulnerable populations.

"We fully understand the responsibility we have to the health and safety of our employees and our customers. We will go above and beyond all recommended safety protocols," said J. Douglas North, president of North Brothers Ford in a press conference last week. "We also understand how we operate and behave will impact all residents of Michigan, as well as influence businesses seeking to reopen in the future."

Retail and auto dealerships must operate on an appointment-based system that requires customers to call ahead and schedule a time. 

Dealerships were among the last pieces of the automotive puzzle that are integral to Michigan's economy and experienced a two-month gap in production after factories were forced to shut down. Ford, General Motors, and Fiat-Chrysler only reignited their assembly lines last week, seven days after manufacturing was allowed to reopen under the governor's order.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's phase-in process is attempting to balance restarting Michigan's economy while keeping the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum. Both case and death totals over the long weekend hinted at a lot of progress under more restrictive measures that residents dealt with in March and April. But with relaxed rules and a clear increase of in-state travel, it's unclear exactly how the coronavirus will respond.

It takes about two weeks for the effects of new executive orders or changes in a resident's behavior to show up in COVID-19 cases. Based on the amount of traveling people in the state did over Memorial Day weekend, the governor and her constituents are about to find out what happens as citizens increasingly emerge from self-quarantine.

A full list of guidelines for how retail should reopen can be found in the governor's executive order here.