State Extending Workplace Restrictions Amid COVID-19 Surge

COVID-19-related workplace restrictions imposed by the state were set to expire this week.

Not so fast.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday those restrictions will be extended another six months amid the coronavirus surge the state is experiencing right now.

Michigan is the hottest COVID-19 hot spot in the nation, with the country’s highest and fastest-rising case surge. Office restrictions put into place by the state require businesses to allow people to work remotely if possible, and outline safety and health protocols that must be followed if companies are bringing employees into a common workplace.

Speaking outside a mass vaccination clinic at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Whitmer said that doesn’t necessarily mean six more months without in-office work.

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Instead, she said, she’s working with business, labor and public health experts to see what coming back to work looks like.

Whitmer blamed the extension on the surging COVID-19 numbers in the state.

“With our high positivity numbers, it’s important to 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,” Whitmer said, according to the Detroit Free Press. 

The extension comes after Whitmer, once criticized for her state being one of the most-restrictive in the country, declined to mandate more business, school and restaurant restrictions last week.

Instead, Whitmer urged those institutions to institute a two-week pause in-person learning, youth sports and indoor dining. She continued pushing the idea of personal responsibility.

“I believe government’s role is, when we can’t take action to protect ourselves, the government must step in. That’s where we were a year ago, that’s where we were four months ago,” Whitmer said Monday. “We’re in a different moment. Every one of us has the ability and knowledge to do what it takes, and it’s on all of us to do it. And that’s why we are just imploring people — take this seriously.”