On Thursday, April 29 Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference announcing the “MI Vacc to Normal Challenge” to re-open portions of the Michigan economy restricted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan sets out four major milestones for loosening of restrictions, which are based upon vaccination rates for Michiganders 16 years or older who have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccination rate-based milestones are:
In her statements, the Governor noted that currently just over 49% of the Michigan population ages 16 or older has been administered a first vaccination, and that approximately 36% percent have been fully vaccinated. Based upon these statistics it is expected that the 55% threshold for Step 1 could be reached as early as the first week of May, with the in-person work restrictions lifted two weeks later.
The Governor also cautioned prudence, however, and stressed that if daily new cases remain greater than 250 per million residents as a 7-day average in a particular Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC) region at the time of implementing Steps 2 through 3, MDHHS may delay implementation in that MERC region. Governor Whitmer additionally noted that a revised DHHS order is expected to be promulgated on April 30, which will further relax outdoor gathering limits following new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In conjunction with the announcement of the “MI Vacc to Normal Challenge”, the Michigan Return-to-Office Workgroup issued its own recommendations to the Governor’s administration outlining practices that employers should be advised to take as they plan for a safe, phased reopening of offices. In addition to policy-related recommendations for MIOSHA and MDHHS, the recommendations outline the following best practices for employers:
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