Executive order offers workplace regulations in an effort to protect against COVID-19 spread
Order provides a list of rules for restaurants, bars, retail stores, and offices as more places of business are allowed to re-open in Region 6 and Region 8 in the state
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
With some businesses starting to re-open in the state, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new executive order on Monday, May 18, that puts in place a long list of regulations aimed at protecting employees and customers from possible COVID-19 spread.
Executive Order 2020-91 – “safeguards to protect Michigan’s workers from COVID-19” – says that “all businesses or operations that are permitted to require their employees to leave the homes or residences for work” under current Safer At Home Orders have to “develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan” and make it available for people to view.
“By June 1, 2020, or within two weeks of resuming in-person activities, whichever is later, a business’s or operation’s plan must be made readily available to employees, labor unions, and customers, whether via website, internal network, or by hard copy,” according to Executive Order 2020-91.
The order says that businesses must also “provide COVID-19 training to employees that covers, at a minimum: 1. Workplace infection-control practices. 2. The proper use of personal protective equipment. 3. Steps the employee must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. 4. How to report unsafe working conditions.”
According to Executive Order 2020-91, businesses must “keep everyone on the worksite premises at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible; provide non-medical grade face coverings to their employees; require face coverings to be worn when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace; increase facility cleaning and disinfection to limit exposure to COVID-19, especially on high-touch surfaces; adopt protocols to clean and disinfect the facility in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace,” and “make cleaning supplies available to employees upon entry and at the worksite and provide time for employees to wash hands frequently or to use hand sanitizer.”
The order also says businesses have to “conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace, including, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19.”
If an employee tests positive for the coronavirus, the order requires businesses to notify the “local public health department” and “any co-workers, contractors, or suppliers who may have come into contact with the person with a confirmed case of COVID-19.”
The order has specific lists of rules for construction businesses, “manufacturing facilities,” “businesses or operations whose work is primarily and traditionally performed outdoors,” offices, “retail stores that are open for in-store sales,” “research laboratories,” and restaurants/bars.
Many of the regulations are similar or the same, including “personal protective equipment,” increased sanitization, social distancing, employee screening, limiting “in-person interaction with clients and patrons to the maximum extent possible,” employee COVID-19 training, and notification procedures in the event of an employee testing positive.
Restaurants and bars must limit the number of customers in their facilities at one time, the order says.
“Restaurants and bars must limit capacity to 50% of normal seating” and “require six feet of separation between parties or groups at different tables or bar tops,” according to Executive Order 2020-91. They are also required to “close waiting areas and ask customers to wait in cars for a call when their table is ready” and “close self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations.”
The order says customers have to “wear face coverings until they get to their table,” servers have to “wear face coverings in the dining area,” and employees must “limit shared items for customers (e.g., condiments, menus) and clean high-contact areas after each customer.”
Retail stores are also supposed to limit the number of people in the facilities, according to the order.
“For stores of less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space, must limit the number of people in the store (including employees) to 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the State Fire Marshal or a local fire marshal. Stores of more than 50,000 square feet must limit the number of customers in the store at one time (excluding employees) to 4 people per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space,” according to Executive Order 2020-91.
A few other regulations listed in Executive Order 2020-91? “Offices must turn off water fountains” and “post signs about the importance of personal hygiene” and “provide disinfecting supplies and require employees wipe down their work stations at least twice daily.” Manufacturing facilities must “suspend all non-essential in-person visits, including tours” and “stagger meal and break times” for employees. Restaurants and bars must “close immediately if an employee shows multiple symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, atypical shortness of breath, atypical cough) and perform a deep clean.”
Retail stores must “install physical barriers at checkout or other service points that require interaction, including plexiglass barriers, tape markers, or tables,” and restaurants and bars are supposed to “install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands, and other areas where maintaining physical distance of six feet is difficult.”
“Because we continue to fight this virus nobody in Michigan should feel unsafe when they go back to work and nobody should be worried about their family member or loved one while they’re at work,” Governor Whitmer said on Monday, May 18.
“Under this executive order, businesses that resume in-person work must, among other things, develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and submit that to the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity by June 1. Businesses need to make these plans ready and available for their workers so they can review them and have confidence in their workplace safety,” Governor Whitmer said.
“Going to work is going to feel different for a little while. These are big changes and we’re all adapting to them, but they’re absolutely necessary for the continued protection of our families and they’re crucial as we continue to phase in sectors of our economy in regions across Michigan,” Governor Whitmer said.
On Monday, May 18, Governor Whitmer followed Executive Order 2020-91 with a new Safer At Home Order (2020-92), which divided the state of Michigan into eight regions as outlined by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council (MERC). Executive Order 2020-92 “loosens some restrictions in MERC regions 6 and 8,” Governor Whitmer said.
Crawford County is in Region 6 along with these northern Michigan counties: Emmet, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Charlevoix, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Leelanau, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, and Roscommon. Region 8 includes the Upper Peninsula.
Executive Order 2020-92 allowed restaurants, bars, retail businesses, and offices to re-open – with restrictions – on Friday, May 22, in Region 6 and Region 8.
“We’re confident that in some regions of the state, they’ve just not been hit as hard with COVID-19 and they are in better position to begin phasing in sectors of their economy and enter the ‘improving’ phase of the MI Safe Start Plan,” Governor Whitmer said.
The MI Safe Start Plan, according to michigan.gov, includes six phases related to the state’s COVID-19 condition: 1) Uncontrolled Growth; 2) Persistent Spread; 3) Flattening; 4) Improving; 5) Containing; 6) Post Pandemic.
What are the differences between the six phases, according to the MI Safe Start Plan? Phase 1, Uncontrolled Growth: “Increasing number of new cases every day, likely to overwhelm the health system.” Phase 2, Persistent Spread: “Continue to see high case levels with concern about health system capacity.” Phase 3, Flattening: “Case growth is gradually declining.” Phase 4, Improving: “Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining.” Phase 5, Containing: “Continued case and death rate improvements and outbreaks can be quickly contained.” Phase 6, Post Pandemic: “Community spread not expected to return.”