Updated September 10, 2021
Guidance to Reopen Safely
The Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber is committed to providing our members with the most updated information as we navigate through the current health and economic crisis. Please utilize this resource for the most up to date information from federal, state, and local authorities.

Please follow the SWCRC on Facebook, where we are posting new legislative updates frequently, resources on safely reopening economic activity, and loan and grant resources for operational capital as they become available. Further, the following link provides information assembled by the SWCRC on loans, grants, guidance and more resources for businesses impacted by COVID-19.
County/Local Level Information & Resources
The Wayne County COVID-19 business toolkit provides reopening safety guidance for specific industries. Also, please follow the Wayne County Health Department and Economic Development Corporation on their websites for further guidance at the County level.
State Level Information & Resources
The MIOSHA Emergency Rules have been rescinded, and replaced with regulations remaining in effect for the health care industry until December 22, 2021, with all other industries following federal OSHA and CDC recommendations.

On Tuesday, June 22, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Labor and Economic Opportunity Department and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) rescinded and replaced its COVID-19 Emergency Rules. The revised Emergency Rules align Michigan with Federal OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) specific to health care settings. The updated rules, which now only impact health care settings versus all employers, are effective today and set to expire on Dec. 22, 2021.

The new rules allow Michigan employers (except healthcare employers) to "use their best judgement" to determine infection control strategies in the workplace, and whether to keep in place mask mandates, social distancing and daily health screenings, according to a statement from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The department added that it "strongly encourages" workplaces to follow federal workplace standards. Healthcare workplaces remain required to abide by ongoing COVID-19 infection control regulations.

“In non-health care settings, it’s important that all employers recognize that they have a general duty to provide a safe workplace, " said Sean Egan, director for Michigan COVID-19 Workplace Safety.

As suggested in the above quote, it’s important to note that MIOSHA is strongly encouraging workplaces to follow the available CDC and OSHA recommendations to mitigate hazards. MIOSHA is suggesting non-healthcare settings should align policies with CDC guidelines and the updated Federal OSHA guidance to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

CDC Guidelines by Industry:

Michigan statute requires employers to provide a “safe and healthful work environment free of recognized hazards.” This means COVID-19 will need to continue to be managed as a hazard in the workplace and citations are still possible under MIOSHA’s general duty clause.

According to the Detroit News, "The June 10 federal guidelines for healthcare workers, to which the state rules defer, require healthcare facilities to develop a written plan to stop the spread of the virus, provide workers with N95 masks, enforce 6 feet of distance between employees and, when possible, place barriers between employees.

Federal OSHA guidance for non-healthcare workplace settings recommends, but does not require, physical distancing and mask usage among unvaccinated employees. The guidance also recommends employers maintain good ventilation systems and routine cleaning practices and have a reporting system in place for employee complaints."

For more information about MIOSHA’s safety and health guidelines to protect Michigan’s workforce, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health may contact MIOSHA using the COVID-19 hotline at 855-SAFE-C19 (855-723-3219).
On June 17, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) announced the rescinding of all broad COVID-19 related restrictions and the MDHHS Gatherings & Face Mask Order beginning Tuesday, June 22. The new Order allows capacity for both indoor and outdoor events and gatherings to return to 100%, and eliminates the state mask mandate, whether individuals are vaccinated or unvaccinated. The new Order goes into effect on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

The rescission order, signed today, can be found HERE.

Questions remain about how today’s announcement impacts the MIOSHA Emergency Rules and whether they will also be rescinded. This is relevant because many of the requirements contained in the COVID-19 epidemic orders on gatherings and masking can also be found in the MIOSHA Rules. The MIOSHA Rules continue to cover the following items:
  • Requiring employees, except fully vaccinated persons, remain at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent feasible while on worksite premises.
  • Requiring employers to provide non-medical grade face coverings to their employees at no cost to the employee (except employers are not required to provide non-medical grade face coverings to fully vaccinated persons).
  • Requiring employees, except fully vaccinated persons, to wear face coverings when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from other individuals indoors in the workplace.
  • Requiring daily entry self-screening protocols for all employees or contractors entering the workplace, including, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19.
  • Requiring employers to enforce quarantine and isolation protocols.

When asked how the announcement impacts the MIOSHA Rules, MIOSHA stated: “MIOSHA expects to amend its rules on June 22 to comply with the Biden administration’s new OSHA guidelines for workplaces here in Michigan, replacing the existing COVID emergency rules that are set to expire in October.” The SWCRC will share additional details as that information becomes available.
At 11:30 PM on Tuesday, October 13, the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber was notified that a deal had been reached between legislative and business leaders, and the Governor's office relating to the ongoing bipartisan negotiations to pass liability protection legislation for businesses who continue to face hardships throughout the ongoing pandemic. In a strong effort to protect Michigan’s ethical business community, the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber joined trade associations and chambers of commerce from across the State to urge for and support common sense legislation from the state legislature and Governor Whitmer that will protect ethical businesses, which are operating according to the guidelines and orders provided by our governing authorities, from unfair and damaging COVID-19 related litigation.

Late last night, the Legislature passed House Bills 60306031, and 6032, which incentivize employers to protect and promote workplace and customer safety and protect organizations against the acute economic threat of COVID-19 related lawsuits and other COVID-19 related liability concerns. The SWCRC applauds Wendy Block, vice president of business advocacy and member engagement, and her team at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce for their strong efforts and leadership, which led to this important legislation passing both chambers of the Legislature.

Summary of the legislation

The legislation (HB 6030) specifies a person who acts in compliance with all federal, state, and local statutes, rules, regulations, executive orders and agency orders related to COVID-19 in effect at the time of the conduct or risk that allegedly caused harm is immune from liability for a COVID-19 claim.  The bill defines “person” as an individual, partnership, corporation, association, governmental entity or other legal entity, including, but not limited to, a school, a college or university, an institution of higher education and a nonprofit charitable organization. It also includes an employee, agent or independent contractor of the person, regardless of whether the individual is paid or an unpaid volunteer.

Another bill (HB 6031) in the bill package makes similar changes to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act and another (HB 6032) codifies the Governor’s Executive Order that prohibits discharge, discipline, or retaliation against employees who stay home because they test positive, display the principal symptoms or have had close contact with an individual who tests positive or displays the principal symptoms.

The bills do not include added protections for companies that stepped up to make or donate personal protection equipment (PPE) in response to the pandemic. According to negotiators and business advocates on Tuesday night, the Governor’s office took the position that providing these protections to businesses which donated and provided PPE in response to the pandemic were not to be included in these bills. The bills provide protections retroactive to March 1, 2020. 
Legislation (Senate Bill 0886) to continue “non-charging” employers for COVID-19 related UI benefits, authorize increased flexibility for employers participating in the WorkShare program, and ensure individuals filing an initial state claim for UI benefits could receive up to 26 weeks of benefits, is on its way to the Governor’s desk. The bill specifies these provisions would apply through December 31, 2020. The legislature could pass legislation at a future date to continue these provisions further.

The UI legislation is needed after the Michigan Supreme Court issued a decision on October 2 finding Governor Whitmer lacks the power to issue executive orders in response to COVID-19 without consent from the Legislature.

A summary of the legislation is located HERE.
The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within the Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) launched a new online COVID-19 Workplace Safety site – Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety – the site provides guidance and a toolkit of resources to keep workplaces safe as sectors of the state’s economy reopen. 

With the continued risk of COVID-19 spread, everyone in the workplace must take necessary precautions. The site includes MIOSHA issued guidelines, posters for employees and customers, factsheets, educational videos and a reopening checklist – all of which will help businesses safely reopening their doors. 

In addition to the general workplace guidelines for employer and employees, MIOSHA provided further clarification on necessary steps several other sectors must take when reopening, including: 

The site also provides guidance on how employers create and make available to employees and customers, a written exposure control plan which includes exposure determination and outlines measures that will be taken to prevent employee exposure to COVID-19, including as appropriate:
  • Engineering controls
  • Administrative controls
  • Hand hygiene and environmental surface disinfection
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Health surveillance
  • Training
  • Incorporating the latest guidance for COVID-19 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Governor’s Executive Orders 
Provided on the MEDC page is a list of resources and information for Michigan businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Programs include capital loans, PPE sources, Main Street and community programs, and more.

The Governor’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Executive Order expands the State’s Work Share program. With the plan, rather than being laid off, eligible employees work a reduced number of hours in the work week and receive a portion of weekly unemployment benefits. Employers are encouraged to implement the program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. More information and guidance about Work Share can be found HERE.
On July 1, the Governor signed several bills into law allowing the selling of cocktails to-go over the next 5 years, a discount for establishments on liquor purchased from the State, and the expansion of "social districts" by local governments to allow for more outdoor restaurant seating and drinking districts, where patrons can safely congregate with social distancing in place. With the State already allowing the sale of beer and wine to-go, the new law permits bars and restaurants to sell sealed containers of cocktails or mixed drinks to-go until December 31, 2025. The law further permits licensed establishments to hold two-for-one specials. Additionally, Governor Whitmer signed a bill providing establishments with the opportunity to receive a 23% discount on spirits purchased from the State over the next 12 months under certain rules.
Recently, the Michigan Department of Treasury announced business taxpayers who have deferred paying their Sales, Use and Withholding (SUW) taxes due to the COVID-19 pandemic can now participate in an installment payment option to satisfy their outstanding tax balance.
Taxpayers scheduled to make SUW tax payments for the February, March, April and May tax periods on June 20, 2020 – including quarterly filers – can either pay their outstanding balance in its entirety or pay their outstanding balance in monthly payments over the next six months. Penalties and interest will be waived on those deferred payments.
Many employers are thinking about reopening their businesses after the “Stay Home” Order is lifted. But there are many things to think through in advance, including staffing, legal concerns and more. There are several webinars on demand to help employers to prepare, such as:  

-Returning to Work: Best Practices for Employers in a COVID-19 World
Federal Level Information & Resources
U.S. President Joe Biden Issues New Pandemic Plan, Including Vaccination Mandate for Many Employers in Recent Executive Order
On Thursday, September 9, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a new plan to address COVID-19, including requiring employers of, and more than 100 to mandate vaccination of their workforce, or implement weekly COVID-19 testing for the unvaccinated. Components of the Plan, and a link to the President's Order can be found below.

The Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber continues to stand strongly for our shared values and economic system of free-enterprise, and generally speaking, our members and business community must be able to operate free of excessive government overreach and mandates. As the SWCRC and our partners continue to review and analyze this Order of the Biden Administration and its impact on our membership, the SWCRC will always advocate for our members' right to operate and adopt the appropriate and responsible workplace policies that are best for their workforce and community, under the safe and hazard-free statutes and guidance of OSHA, MIOSHA, and other governing agencies.

The Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber will make information on this Order, and other matters available to our members as it comes out.

Components of the Executive Order and Plan include:

  • Requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly. The President said the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement. It is estimated this requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100 or more employees.  NOTE: It is unclear how quickly the ETS can be issued and/or implemented and whether OSHA has authority under their regulating statute to pursue this type of sweeping change through ETS. It seems likely that this mandate will be litigated.
  • Calling on Large Entertainment Venues to Require Proof of Vaccination or Testing for Entry.  Although not a mandate, the President is calling on entertainment venues like sports arenas, large concert halls and other venues where large groups of people gather to require their patrons be vaccinated or show a negative test for entry.
  • Requiring Employers to Provide Paid Time Off to Get Vaccinated. The President announced OSHA is developing a rule that will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they are ill post-vaccination. This requirement will be implemented through the ETS.  NOTE: As with the vaccine and testing mandate, it remains unclear how quickly the ETS can be issued and implemented and whether OSHA has authority under their regulating statute to pursue this type of sweeping change through ETS. 
  • Requiring COVID-⁠19 Vaccinations for Over 17 Million Health Care Workers at Medicare and Medicaid Participating Hospitals and Other Health Care Settings.  The President announced the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking action to require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including but not limited to hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings and home health agencies. This action is in addition to the vaccination requirement for nursing facilities previously announced by CMS.
  • Requiring Vaccinations for all Federal Workers and for Millions of Contractors that Do Business with the Federal Government. The President has signed an Executive Order to require all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated and to extend the standard to employees of contractors that do business with the federal government.

Other components of the President’s plan include:

  • Offering COVID-19 booster shots to the general population as early as the week of Sept. 20, subject to authorization or approval by the FDA.
  • Mobilizing the private sector to expand easy-to-use and rapid COVID-19 tests, including at-home tests. This would include the procurement of nearly $2 billion in rapid point-of-care and over-the-counter at-home COVID tests—280 million tests in all—from multiple COVID-19 test manufacturers.
  • Making at-home testing more affordable. The President’s plan hinges on an agreement with certain retailers, including Walmart, Kroger and Amazon, to sell at-home testing kits at cost beginning this week and for the next three months.
  • Doubling down on efforts of Biden’s previous Executive Order requiring mask-wearing in airports and on certain modes of public transportation, including airplanes, trains, maritime vessels and intercity bus services.
  • Calling on states to adopt vaccine requirements for all school employees.
  • Urge schools to set up regular testing based on community spread
Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act Approved by Congress: On June 3, 2020, Congress passed and sent to President Trump new reforms to the PPP loan, known as the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. The legislation has since been signed into law by the President. PPP information is located on the SBA's website HERE, and the bill can be viewed HERE. Provisions within the legislation include funding from the PPP loan being forgivable on qualifying expenses for up to 24 weeks, up from the original 8 week period. Also, the Act reduces the percentage of a PPP forgivable loan that must be applied toward payroll to 60 percent, down from the original 75 percent. The other 40 percent of the loan can be used on expenses such as mortgage interest, utilities and rent. Further, the Act also allows the loan period to be extended. Under the initial plan, the loan would have been a 2-year loan at 1% interest rate. This has been extended to up to 5 years. Further, the Act allows borrowers to defer the employer share of Social Security taxes (6.2%), regardless of whether the borrower receives forgiveness or not. 50% of deferred Social Security tax would be due in 2021, with the other 50% due in 2022.

US Chamber PPP Loan Forgiveness Guidance: Under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), loans may be forgiven if borrowers use the funds to maintain their payrolls and pay other specified expenses.  Click here to download a step-by-step guide from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to calculate your loan forgiveness amount, navigate record-keeping requirements, and determine repayment terms on amounts not forgiven. Also, click HERE to view the recent step-by-step video guidance from the U.S. Chamber. Further, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a new digital resource center , providing at a national level industry specific guidelines to reopening and a small business reopening "playbook."

SBA & Treasury Guidance: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released an application form for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness along with instructions for completing the form. This form is provided for informational purposes. Businesses should consult with their CPA when preparing the PPP loan forgiveness application. View the sample form and instructions HERE Note: Your lender will have specific documents and instructions for the PPP loan forgiveness application.

PPP Fraud Concerns and Required Certification: In recent weeks, and in response to significant public pressure, the SBA and Treasury have determined that certain companies should not receive the benefits of PPP loans for which they qualified under the law. As a result, the SBA has advised that “all borrowers should review carefully the required certification” that current economic uncertainty makes the loan necessary after taking into account their current business activity and access to other sources of liquidity. As an incentive for companies who are unable to make the good faith certification of necessity to repay the loans, the SBA created a “safe harbor” to provide that borrowers would be deemed to have met the necessity certification requirements if the loans were repaid in full on or before May 7, 2020, and the deadline for the repayment safe harbor was subsequently extended to May 14, 2020. As additional incentive for companies to repay PPP loans during the safe harbor, the federal government has indicated that it will investigate PPP borrowers and may pursue criminal investigations in cases in which certifications on the loan application are determined to be fraudulent. On April 29, 2020, more than one month after the CARES Act was signed into law, the SBA announced that it intends to review (i.e., “audit”) all PPP loans of more than $2M, along with other loans, “as appropriate.” One key motivation for such audits is the government’s view that the benefits of the PPP should not be afforded to companies that have alternative sources of liquidity to fund ongoing operations “in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business.”

Borrowers with loans of or under $2 Million: As of May 27, 2020, the U.S. Treasury has released new guidance via FAQ. Under the new FAQ, borrowers of $2 million or less will be deemed to have made in good faith the required certification concerning the necessity of this loan. In Question #46, the FAQ specifically spell out that most businesses with loans below this level are “less likely to have had access to adequate sources of liquidity in the current economic environment than borrowers that obtained larger loans.”

It is important for PPP borrowers to review this new guidance in preparation for loan forgiveness. Potential for Fraud: For small businesses that borrowed funds under the PPP, if the federal government determines that there has been a false certification, the company or individual signing the certification could face serious civil and, potentially, criminal charges related to this “fraud.”

Documentation of Necessity or Repayment of PPP Loan: Any business that borrowed PPP loan funds should consider whether, and how, it can document compliance with the CARES Act necessity “certification” requirements. A meaningful review of necessity for PPP loans is recommended for all borrowers, and could prove to be absolutely critical for any borrower that: is publicly traded; is a United States subsidiary of a foreign parent; has access to other sources of liquidity; or is a borrower of more than $2M. Unless the full loan is repaid by May 14, every such borrower should be prepared for an SBA audit of both its PPP loan application, and its uses of PPP loan funds.

*Key source along with Treasury FAQ: Bodman Law article

PPP loan forgiveness guidance on employees refusing offer of work: What happens if you call back laid-off employees and they are reluctant or refuse to return to work?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of Treasury recently answered this question in their PPP Frequently Asked Questions. While promising to issue a formal rule, the FAQ states the following:

Question 40: Will a borrower’s PPP loan forgiveness amount (pursuant to section 1106 of the CARES Act and SBA’s implementing rules and guidance) be reduced if the borrower laid off an employee, offered to rehire the same employee, but the employee declined the offer?

Answer: No. As an exercise of the Administrator’s and the Secretary’s authority under Section 1106(d)(6) of the CARES Act to prescribe regulations granting de minimis exemptions from the Act’s limits on loan forgiveness, SBA and Treasury intend to issue an interim final rule excluding laid-off employees whom the borrower offered to rehire (for the same salary/wages and same number of hours) from the CARES Act’s loan forgiveness reduction calculation. The interim final rule will specify that, to qualify for this exception, the borrower must have made a good faith, written offer of rehire, and the employee’s rejection of that offer must be documented by the borrower. Employees and employers should be aware that employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.
The CDC introduced new industry specific guidance, including 1 page tools designed to guide general workplaces and restaurants/bars as they plan to safely reopen. Please review these valuable tools, including guidance for community events, churches and community organizations, recreational facilities, educational institutions and more HERE.

The CDC and EPA have released guidance for all businesses for cleaning and sanitizing the workplace as businesses begin to reopen safely. The Guidance is based on the President's Open Up America Again plan, and is intended for all Americans, whether they own a business, run a school, or want to ensure the cleanliness and safety of their home. The Guidance can be viewed HERE.

Business must begin to plan and execute safety practices to protect the workforce and community. Below are links that provide resources and guidance from the CDC, U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and MIOSHA. Further, the following section provides templates for Preparedness and Response Plans. These templates are for information purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact legal counsel to obtain advice with respect to your individual workplace.   

The MIOSHA website includes guidance on an interim COVID-19 complaint enforcement plan, FAQs, and guidance for businesses on who can perform in-person work under the current executive order.

Businesses must abide by and regularly check updated CDC, State, OSHA, and local guidelines as information is rapidly changing. At this time, there are no protections in place for employers who are operating under this guidance or that open too soon.
#SupportDownriver & #SupportSouthernWayneCounty CAMPAIGN
Together as one community, we are launching a unified regional campaign to support our local businesses, and to revitalize our local economy in a safe, responsible, and effective way. The campaign is called #SupportDownriver, and #SupportSouthernWayneCounty for municipalities represented by the Downriver Community Conference and Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber who count themselves as outside of the traditionally recognized "Downriver" communities. As one united community, we will save lives, businesses and jobs. While we do everything that is necessary to protect the health and well-being of our community, we cannot standby as our region's job providers and entrepreneurs lose everything they have worked so hard to gain not only for themselves, but for the people of our region. We are asking all of our communities, members and the entire Downriver business community to participate in this positive and encouraging messaging. Use the graphics, posting and tagging as many local businesses as often as possible. NOW MORE THAN EVER, it is vital that we support our Downriver and southern Wayne County job providers, entrepreneurs and workforce. Campaign graphics and more information can be found by clicking the below link.
The SWCRC's resource page provides PPP loan forgiveness guidance from the U.S. Treasury, guidance on the Federal Reserve's Main Street Lending Program, and information on existing loans, grants and other guidance including the PPP and SBA EIDL programs.