3 Things Michigan Businesses Need to Know About Changes in Mask RulesMay 14, 2021
- Gov. Whitmer announced that Michigan will follow the new Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on masks and social distancing for fully vaccinated individuals. A new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) took effect on Saturday, May 15.
- The updated guidance further underscores that vaccines are the most effective and important way to ensure a sustainable and robust economic recovery for Michigan and the path for a full return to normal business operations.
- As the new orders are released there is still ambiguity for Michigan Businesses and the Chamber and MICHauto will continue to update members and investors with the most up-to-date information.
The CDC guidance now says, “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
Gov. Whitmer and the CDC’s respective announcements are a testament to the efficacy of vaccines in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Michigan businesses have long recognized the importance of vaccines as a critical component of an economic recovery. A March survey from the Chamber showing that “81% of respondents agree the vaccine will be important for their company to return to “normal” business operations, with 55.2% stating they strongly agree it will be important.”
The Governor’s announcement Friday said the following about the expected new Order, “Under the updated MDHHS Gatherings and Mask Order, Michiganders who are outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. While indoors, fully vaccinated Michiganders will no longer need to wear a mask, but residents who are not vaccinated, or have not completed their vaccinations, must continue to wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves and others. After July 1, the broad indoor mask mandate will expire.”
Key Considerations for Businesses Now
Under the new MDHHS order business do not need to require patrons to wear a mask if they are vaccinated, and enforcement is primarily left up to the honor system. The Governor’s announcement is welcome news for businesses; however, there is still a degree of ambiguity that needs to be resolved as the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MISOHA) Emergency Rules remain unchanged. The Chamber and MICHauto fully expect changes to the Emergency Rules that will reflect updated CDC guidance.
Currently, as of April 2021, the Emergency Rules require:
- Mask mandates for all employees, regardless of vaccination status: “The employer shall require face coverings to be worn when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace and consider face shields when employees cannot consistently maintain three feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace.” And “The employer shall require face coverings in shared spaces, including during in-person meetings and in restrooms and hallways.” (Rule 7)
- Social distancing for all employees, regardless of vaccination status: “The employer shall keep everyone on the worksite premises at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible and to reduce congestion, including using ground markings, signs, and physical barriers, as appropriate to the worksite.” (Rule 7)
- Industry-specific requirements regarding masks and social distancing for customers and patrons, regardless of vaccination status: Applies to restaurants and bars, retailers, libraries, museums, health care, personal-care services (barbering, cosmetology, tanning, massage, etc.), public accommodations (sports and entertainment facilities), gyms, and casinos. (Rule 9)
- Quarantine and isolation requirements for all employees regardless of vaccination status. (Rule 6)
- Remote work requirements regardless of vaccination status. “The employer shall create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.” (Rule 5) As of May 24, according to the Governor’s “MI Vacc to Normal” plan, businesses in all sectors may resume in-person operations. This is based on a vaccination-related milestone set by the state that this change will take place 14 days after 55% of Michigan residents have received their first vaccine dose.
The Chamber and MICHauto will continue to monitor updates that impact business throughout the region.