YPSILANTI, MI — As COVID surges across the state for a third time, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) will extend restrictions on offices for up to another six months, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced following a tour of an Ypsilanti vaccine clinic.
“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.
The rules force office workers and those who are able to conduct their work remotely to stay out of their office, except when remote work isn’t feasible.
Emergency workplace guidelines set by MIOSHA are set to expire on Wednesday, April 14, but will be extended for six months, Whitmer said.
“I know that when we do extend them, which we will, people are going to think that you can’t go to the office for another six months and that’s not the case,” Whitmer said.
State law allows MIOSHA to extend the set of emergency rules one more time — for up to six months.
The state is working with business community leaders as well as public health experts to understand what back-to-work looks like, and when a return may be possible, Whitmer said.
In March, Whitmer announced the state would establish a task force to decide how best to reengage office workers.
Some business leaders in Michigan have spent the last month petitioning to reopen offices, saying that office restrictions put small business, jobs and the economy at risk.
Business leaders from the “Reopen Michigan Safely” campaign have said office spaces are some of the safest, low-risk environments.
MIOSHA has cited 201 businesses of all types for not following COVID-19 protocols during the pandemic, however, the agency reports more than 95% of inspections have not led to citations.
State data shows offices have contributed to nine COVID-19 outbreaks that are currently ongoing. In March, office outbreaks outpaced outbreaks happening in retail and restaurant settings, but far fewer than in schools and manufacturing/construction spaces.
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