Michigan Gov. Whitmer gives manufacturing the OK while extending Stay Home order to May 28

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has extended the state's Stay Home, Stay Safe order through May 28 but will allow manufacturing workers, including employees at the big 3 automakers to return to work on Monday, May 11.

Gov. Whitmer announced the new extension of her executive order just before taking the podium in Lansing to discuss the latest on COVID-19 in Michigan.

This is the fourth time Whitmer has extended the stay-at-home order. The new order will extend until May 28 but will allow employees in manufacturing to return to the job.

“This is good news for our state, our businesses, and our working families,” said Governor Whitmer. “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.” 

RELATED: Life after COVID-19 won't be normal for Michigan workers as manufacturing needs system overhaul

The manufacturing industry makes up about 19% of our economy, Whitmer said, and about 4-5% right now are engaged as essential.

"This is a sizeable part of our economy and it's an incremental step," she said.

Facilities that open under this order have five categories of COVID-19 best practices to follow: access control, social distancing, sanitation/hygiene, PPE and contact tracing/isolation.

Under the order, facilities must adopt measures to protect workers, including conduct daily entry screening for workers and anyone who enters the facility, a questionnaire covering symptoms and exposure to people with possible COVID-19, a temperature screening as soon as no-touch thermometers can be obtained.

They must also create dedicated entry points at every facility, and suspend entry of all non-essential in-person visits, including tours. 

During her press conference, Whitmer unveiled a six-phase approach to return to 'normal' that residents of the state will need to follow as we continue to fight the virus.

The phases of the pandemic include:

  1. UNCONTROLLED GROWTH: The increasing number of new cases every day, overwhelming our health systems. 
  2. PERSISTENT SPREAD: We continue to see high case levels with concern about health system capacity. 
  3. FLATTENING: The epidemic is no longer increasing and the health-system's capacity is sufficient for current needs. 
  4. IMPROVING: Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining. 
  5. CONTAINING: Continued case and death rate improvements, with outbreaks quickly contained. 
  6. POST-PANDEMIC: Community spread not expected to return. 

Currently, Michigan is in the flattening phase and if we continue to maintain social distancing, we will move into the improving phase soon.

Whitmer said as time progresses and Michigan enters future phases, parts of the state could be in varying stages."There could be regional differences -- that's why we wanted to share the thought process. It is not written in stone, but this is the ideal cadence, the ideal next steps," she said.

“Governor Whitmer has brought together leaders in business and labor to ensure our workers can return to the job safely. 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,” said John Walsh, President and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “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 also train workers on, among other things, how COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person, signs and symptoms of COVID-19, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or suspected or confirmed diagnosis, and the use of personal protective equipment. 

All businesses in the state—including manufacturers—must require masks to be worn when workers cannot 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. 

The mask requirement is in line with her most recent executive order extension in late April, when she extended the order that requires people to wear some sort of face covering when they enter enclosed public spaces.