Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order to allow residential and commercial construction to restart on May 7 and set requirements that sites must follow to maintain the health of employees.
Whitmer's action is her latest step to slowly allow employees to return to certain jobs, including construction, real-estate activities, and work that is traditionally and primarily performed outdoors. According to Whitmer, these jobs present a low risk of infection for employees and the general public.
She said the health team will monitor the effects of allowing these activities to resume will have on the general health of Michiganders.
"It will not be biz as usual in Michigan for some time, but we are starting to turn that dial," Whitmer said.
The governor has repeatedly used the term 'dial' in reference to reopening the state, saying it will not be a matter of flipping a switch and bringing everyone back to normal life - but it would be like a slow turn of a dial.
According to the new executive order, construction sites must adopt a set of best practices to protect workers:
- Designating a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies
- Conducting daily health screenings for workers
- Creating dedicated entry points, if possible, or issuing stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers are screened every day
- Identifying choke points and high-risk areas (like hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, water stations, and buses) and controlling them to enable social distancing
- Ensuring sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite.
"Work is going to look and feel a little bit different than it has in the past but these necessary steps will keep us safe as we reengage our economy," she said.
Gov. Whitmer said she is not making decisions based on political or legal pressure and said her number one goal is maintaining people's health and safety.
The Governor reiterated that the Stay Home, Stay Safe order is still in place until May 15. Under this order, Michiganders still must not leave their homes except to run critical errands, to engage in safe outdoor activities, or to go to specified jobs.
“The data shows that we’re ready to lift some of these restrictions while also encouraging Michiganders to continue doing their part under the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “The steps the governor is taking today will help ensure protections for workers and their families from COVID-19 while allowing for work in lower-risk fields to resume. We will keep monitoring the data closely and work with our partners across state government to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”