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Michigan Offices Can Reopen On May 24 As State Hits 55% Vaccine Target

May 11, 2021
Michigan hit its first vaccination benchmark Monday in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Vacc to Normal” plan. This plan ties rolling back COVID-19 restrictions to residents getting their first dose of a vaccine.

As of Monday afternoon, 4,455,395 Michiganders had received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Under Gov. Whitmer’s “Vacc to Normal” plan, the administration will allow in-person work for all business sectors to resume two weeks after 4.44 million residents, or 55% of the adult population age 16 and older, have received their first dose.

“Two weeks from now, we can take the first step on our path to get (back) to normal,” Gov. Whitmer said Monday in a tweeted video. “On May 24, all workplaces will be allowed to return for in-person work. And we’re able to take this step forward thanks to every Michigander who has gotten their shot.”

Michigan hit this mark faster than previously anticipated in large part because state health leaders announced Friday they have changed the data they use to determine the statewide vaccination rate. Michigan is now using state data and information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that tracks Michiganders who received the vaccine in other states, federal prisons, Veterans Affairs hospitals, and through the Department of Defense.

Back to the Office

The Detroit Regional Chamber and MichAuto both advocated for data-driven guidelines that would allow for a safe return to the office for Michigan workers. In a Feb. 19 letter, the Chamber joined business groups from across the state to advocate for in-person work.

“Offices are some of the most controlled, low-risk environments in our state. Masks can be worn whenever employees are not in a private space. Cleaning methods, social distancing, and daily health checks can be implemented in an employer-monitored setting and our employers are prepared. From Grand Rapids to Lansing and Detroit, empty office buildings have a damaging impact not only on productivity, innovation, collaboration, and mental health, but also has put an incredible strain on our communities.”

A return to the office will be welcomed by the automotive industry, as in-person work with designers, engineers, and project managers improves collaborative outcomes. Representing Michigan’s signature industry, MichAuto sent a letter to the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) Return-to-Office Workgroup on office reopening in March.

“The automotive industry requires constant innovation, and it functions best when design, engineering, and program management are done together in person. The industry is at a critical transformation point, and the competition from global players and new industry entrants has not subsided during the pandemic. American and Michigan-based auto/mobility interests cannot risk falling behind at this critical juncture. Failure to accelerate our creativity and innovation now will have irreversible negative consequences for Michigan’s economy.

What Comes Next

Sean Egan, COVID-19 workplace safety director for LEO, outlined what this means for business in a statement, “MIOSHA is in the process of reviewing both the emergency rules and draft permanent rules as the state meets and exceeds certain vaccination rates. MIOSHA’s rule-making is flexible in that the agency has the ability to modify or rescind all or parts of each rule set to best protect Michigan workers as the pandemic moves closer to ending.”

Current COVID-19 emergency workplace rules direct employers on a variety of issues including employee safety training, sick employee reporting, face mask use, and social distancing. As employers look to transition workers back to the office, the Chamber and MichAuto have compiled a series of resources to support the safe return to work.

What Business Need to Know About Reopening Their Offices Spaces

MIOSHA’s COVID-19 Guidelines for Offices

What Businesses Need to Know About Vaccines Before Returning to the Office