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Publications | April 29, 2021
3 minute read

Governor Whitmer Announces Michigan’s Path Out of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Michigan’s Vacc to Normal Plan (“Plan”), a four-step plan that charts Michigan’s path out of the COVID‑19 pandemic. The Plan outlines the vaccination-based milestones on which the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (“MDHHS”) will base future epidemic orders.

A Return to In-Person Work

For Michigan employers, the next and most notable step includes returning employees to in-person work. Under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“MIOSHA”) Emergency Rules on Coronavirus (“MIOSHA Rules”), which were recently extended until October 14, 2021, Michigan employers currently must develop a policy that prohibits employees from performing in-person work when those job duties can feasibly be performed remotely. Our summary of those MIOSHA Rules can be found here.
Under the Plan, however, the state of Michigan will allow in-person work for all sectors of business beginning two weeks after 55% of Michiganders (4,453,304 residents) who are at least age 16 have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination. If new COVID‑19 cases remain greater than 250 daily per million as a seven-day average at the time of the Plan’s implementation, MIOSHA may delay lifting its remote work requirement.
Warner’s Labor and Employment Practice Group will continue to monitor the state’s progress under the Plan and the MIOSHA Rules. If you have any questions, please reach out to a member of the group.
Warner’s Labor and Employment Practice Group

Lifting the Restrictions on Gatherings

As COVID‑19 vaccination rates increase, gathering limitations will gradually become less restrictive. On April 16, 2021, MDHHS issued a new Gatherings and Face Mask Order (“Gathering Order”), effective April 19, 2021, extending the previous March 19, 2021, Gatherings and Face Mask Order (“Prior Order”) to May 24, 2021. The Gathering Order is substantially similar to the Prior Order and you can find more information on those limitations here and a useful infographic from MDHHS here. The Gathering Order does reduce the age for children who are not required to wear a mask from five to two years of age.
The restrictions of the Gathering Order will become less restrictive based on Michigan achieving the following vaccination milestones: 

  • 60% of Michiganders (4,858,150 residents), plus two weeks:
    • Increasing indoor capacity at sports stadiums to 25%.
    • Increasing indoor capacity at conference centers/banquet halls/funeral homes to 25%.
    • Increasing capacity at exercise facilities and gyms to 50%.
    • Lifting the curfew on restaurants and bars.
  • 65% of Michiganders (5,262,996 residents), plus two weeks:
    • Lifting all indoor percentage capacity limits, requiring only social distancing between parties.
    • Further relaxing limits on residential social gatherings.
  • 70% of Michiganders (5,667,842 residents), plus two weeks:
    • Lifting the Gathering Order such that MDHHS will no longer employ broad mitigation measures unless unanticipated circumstances arise, such as the spread of vaccine-resistant variants. 

If you have any questions concerning the Gathering Order, please contact a member of our COVID‑19 service team: Michael Azzi, Amanda Fielder, Monique Field-Foster, Homayune Ghaussi, Matthew Johnson or Ford Turrell.