Governor Whitmer Announces Re-Opening of Construction
Governor Whitmer announced Monday of this week that certain aspects of the economy and potentially various regions across the state will soon begin to reopen. However, she made clear that it will not be business as usual, given that many aspects of our economy before COVID-19 will look very different than they will once re-opened. Facemasks, shields and other personal protective equipment will likely be used moving forward in the future.
The Governor, in her press conference on Monday, said that the construction industry will likely be the first industry phased back in. While a significant amount of public works construction has continued through the pandemic because it was deemed essential, private, commercial, residential and some local public construction has not.
Last week, MITA joined other construction associations in an official request to Governor Whitmer that all segments of the construction industry should re-open in a safe manner as soon as possible. MITA staff has been working diligently over the last several weeks to develop and introduce proper protocols that industry would have to meet in order to re-open successfully and in accordance with current COVID-19 guidelines.
No timeline has been announced with regard to the industry re-opening yet, although further announcements were suggested as being forthcoming. Last week, the Governor relaxed restrictions for landscapers while extending the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order through May 15th.
Decisions will be based, in part, on geography. Advisers have divided the state into eight regions based on employee travel patterns and location of health care facilities. Risk in each region will also be assessed based on COVID-19 case counts, health care capacity and ability to track contacts.
MITA staff continues to monitor and participate in conversations regarding the re-opening of Michigan’s economy. When the Governor gives the go ahead to all construction, MITA will announce it immediately.
COVID-19 Testing for Essential Workers Experiences Delays
MITA staff has received calls from members who have attempted to have their employees tested for COVID-19, but have been unable to get it done when no symptoms are present. As MITA reported last week, testing was expanded to any employee who is working outside of their home and considered an essential employee. MITA staff expressed this concern with officials from the Governor’s office, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services, who admitted that full implementation has been slow.
The recommendation is that employers contact the individual testing sites to confirm that employees can be tested, and have employees bring their essential worker paperwork (which should be provided by the employer) with them, as well as the directive from DHHS listed here.
A list of testing locations is available here.
Clarification on Workforce Mask Requirements
MITA has received clarification on Executive Order 2020-59 with regard to the wearing of masks.
Employers are required to provide masks for employees where social interaction (working within six feet) is required. It is highly recommended that employees working within six feet of one another wear masks. N-95 masks are suggested, but not required. Cloth masks, bandanas or homemade masks are acceptable when N-95 masks are not available.
It has been suggested that enforcement agencies not write violation tickets if masks are not being worn by an employee in regards to COVID-19, nor when an employer is unable to find available masks. It is also recommended that employers continually search for masks, as they will become more available in the coming weeks.
If you have any questions, please contact Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org, Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs, at email@example.com, Rob Coppersmith, Vice President of Membership Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Greg Brooks, Director of Safety and Compliance, at email@example.com.