Most Michigan offices must stay empty for now, says Whitmer, angering business leaders

April 13, 2021, 7:29 AM

Remote work continues this spring and perhaps into summer for thousands of Michigan office employees and other indoor wage-earners. 

A ban on in-person workplaces for jobs that can be done off-site, in effect since Oct. 14, will be extended six months, the governor says. The Covid emergency rule from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration was set to expire Wednesday.

The move, which irritates some employers, doesn't necessarily mean indoor work will be prohibited for the full half-year. Slinging jargon worthy of a corporate consultant, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says her administration is working with businesses, labor and public health experts "to promulgate what that back-to-work cadence looks like," The Detroit News relays.

"But at this juncture, with our high positivity numbers, it's really important that we extend for another six months so that we have the ability to work through what these protocols look like and get people back into the workplace when it's safe to do so with the right protocols," Whitmer said at a Ypsilanti press conference [Monday].

There has been pressure from chambers of commerce and business leaders to lift the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration's rules that have kept many workers from returning to the office.

A month-old business coalition called Reopen Michigan Safely says there is "little evidence that carefully managed offices are sources of spread."


"Whitmer's restrictions are making it extremely difficult for businesses to remain competitive versus other states where employees can safely work together to innovate in response to myriad challenges created by the pandemic," the Lansing group adds in a new statement that quotes Rich Studley, head of the Michigan Chamber:

"Extending these rules for another six months is a body blow many businesses may never recover from. ... Gov. Whitmer’s inability to find ways to work with job creators to restart our economy is a complete leadership failure that will cause economic pain for Michigan workers for years." 

Read more:  The Detroit News

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