Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Friday opening construction, real estate and portions of the manufacturing sector on May 7, while requiring employers to adopt workplace safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
While opening commercial and residential construction sites, companies are required to adopt a set of practices to protect workers, including designating a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies, daily health screenings for workers, creating dedicated entry points if possible and identifying high-risk areas at job sites.
Patrick Devlin, secretary treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council who spoke during Whitmer’s press conference, said the construction industry is familiar with the precautions outlined in Whitmer’s order.
“Safety glasses, masks, gloves and of course social distancing are all important and will be in place as we move forward,” Devlin said. “We can and will do this safely and in partnership with our contractors.”
The executive order applies to “workers in the construction industry, including workers in the building trades,” which includes plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians and “similar workers.”
The order also allows people in the real estate industry including agents, appraisers, brokers, inspectors, surveyors and registers of deeds to return to work on May 7, though in-person open houses are not permitted. As well, private showings are only allowed for owner-occupied homes, vacant homes, vacant land and commercial and industrial property.
Whitmer’s order also allows the manufacturing of goods such as office dividers that “support workplace modification to forestall the spread of COVID-19 infections.”
The order includes a series workplace protection guidelines for companies to follow.
“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 re-engage the economy,” Whitmer said.
During her Friday afternoon press conference, Whitmer also responded to Thursday’s protest at the Capitol and multiple actions taken by the GOP-led Senate to limit her statutory power during emergencies. On Thursday, Whitmer extended the state of emergency through May 28 while the stay-at-home order remains in place until May 15.
As before, Whitmer pledged to veto bills sent to her and called the state Legislature’s actions “political gamesmanship without substance.” She cited four reasons for vetoing the legislation, including being statutorily, constitutionally and procedurally flawed.