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Tuesday, 13 April 2021 22:35

MI Business Groups 'Extremely Disappointed' in Extended COVID-19 Office Restrictions

Written by Scott McClallen, The Center Square
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers remarks at her Feb. 17 news conference.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers remarks at her Feb. 17 news conference.  Press@mich.gov

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration extended COVID-19 Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) emergency business place rules that would have expired April 14.

The extension effectively bans most in-person office work, business groups say.

 

Whitmer cited Michigan’s high COVID-19 case numbers for her decision.

 

The rule, originally issued Oct. 14, is extended another six months but can be revised or withdrawn at any time. A news release said: “While in-person work is permitted when remote work is not feasible, remote work is recommended as a strategy to minimize in-person contacts and is included in guidance from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and Federal [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] to protect employees in the workplace.”

 

The rule states: "The employer shall create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely."

 

Michigan Chamber President & CEO Rich Studley told The Center Square in a phone interview the coalition was “extremely disappointed” with Whitmer’s extension after Whitmer picked Michigan Chamber members for a workgroup discussing the extension.

 

“It’s pretty obvious the administration wasn’t sincere about listening to the concerns of employers,” Studley said, who pointed out office outbreaks are only the sixth-highest source.

 

The Reopen Michigan Safely Coalition is pushing Whitmer to “end the office ban.”

 

The group, comprised of 58 business groups, contends the ban on in-person work is decimating downtown foot traffic statewide on which local businesses rely.

 

For example, Lansing has 47 restaurants and 19 retail stores, and an already 20% storefront vacancy rate. The state has 27,000 people currently working from home, according to...


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