Governor Set to Reopen Michigan Construction Industry May 7
Reported by Chad Livengood for Crain's Detroit Business
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to reopen Michigan's construction industry May 7 after a six-week shutdown caused by the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
The governor will sign an executive order Friday loosening her stay-at-home order for the construction industry, Whitmer spokesman Zack Pohl confirmed Wednesday.
The news of the May 7 restart was first reported Tuesday night by the Lansing newsletter MIRSnews.com.
Whitmer said Monday that construction and other outdoor enterprises are at a lower risk of spreading COVID-19 and that she would likely reopen the construction sector "in the next week or two."
"No one should be surprised that the governor would open a lower risk field like she has said at previous press conferences," Pohl said Wednesday morning in a statement.
The reopening of construction work sites is welcomed news for Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, a trade group representing about 1,000 companies in the residential and commercial construction business.
"We've been ready to get back to work for some time now," said Jeff Wiggins, state director of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan.
The Construction Industrial Safety Coalition, a national coalition of 25 construction associations, has created a best practices guide that ABC's members plan to use to increase sanitation and safety on work sites, Wiggins said.
For example, Wiggins said, the sharing of tools will be eliminated or minimized to prevent spread of COVID-19.
"If you are going to do it, obviously sterilization is key," he said.
Construction and outdoor jobs were identified by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council — a group of business, labor and health care executives advising Whitmer— as lower risk compared to service industry jobs where workers directly interact in close proximity to customers.
Ryan Maibach, president and CEO of the Southfield-based construction giant Barton Malow, served on the advisory group co-chaired by DTE Energy Co. Executive Chairman Gerry Anderson and Nancy Schlichting, the former CEO of Henry Ford Health System.
"We've been working with everyone from home builders to contractors to road building to put best practices in place that ensure worker safety," Maibach told MIRS. "We're looking forward to getting back to work and building a better Michigan."