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Easing of Restrictions on Michigan Construction Industry to Go Into Effect on May 7, 2020

May 4, 2020

Construction worker on site

The fight against COVID-19 has had a serious impact on businesses across the nation, and the construction industry is no exception. May 1, 2020, marked a step toward a new normal as Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-70 easing restrictions on construction projects. The Governor’s office also issued a press release explaining how the Order applies to work on construction projects.

Under previous executive orders, only limited types of construction projects were allowed to proceed. These included projects to support critical infrastructure—such as projects to maintain and improve roads, bridges, and telecommunications, and public health infrastructure—such as the creation or expansion of hospitals and other medical facilities. For the most part, residential construction projects, even those that were already underway, had to be halted as such projects could only progress for limited purposes, such as maintaining the safety or restoring the habitability of a residence. Construction projects that did not meet these requirements could not be started or progressed, although workers were permitted on site for “minimum basic operations” which were limited to in-person jobs that were “strictly necessary to preserve the current condition of the project while the order is in effect.”

Under the Order, construction work may resume on May 7, 2020, so long as it adheres to enhanced social distancing rules. Specifically, the Order allows for work that presents a very low risk of infection, including construction, real estate activities, and work that is traditionally and primarily performed outdoors, to resume. The order also explicitly notes that construction workers in the building trades—including plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, and similar workers—may return to work. However, construction sites must now adopt a set of best practices, defined by Section 11(i) of the Order, to protect their workers from infection. Those practices include:

  • Designating a specific site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies. This supervisor must remain on-site at all times during activities.
  • Conducting daily health screenings for workers. The screening includes a questionnaire covering COVID-19 symptoms and exposure to people with possible cases of COVID-19. If possible, this should also include temperature screening.
  • Creating dedicated entry points, if possible, or issuing stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers are screened every day.
  • Require that workers wear face shields or masks when they cannot maintain six feet of separation from other workers.
  • Identifying choke points and high-risk areas (like hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, water stations, and buses) and controlling them to enable social distancing.
  • Ensuring sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite.

Although these guidelines require increased diligence at construction sites, re-engaging the economy, particularly in the construction sector, marks a step forward on the road to recovery.

If you have questions about how the new executive order may affect you or your business, contact Jim Case (JCase@dykema.com), Jennifer Boueri Chilson (JBoueriChilson@dykema.com) or Joseph Duffy (JDuffy@dykema.com).

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