Lansing, MI–Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Friday allowing the construction and real estate industries to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The industries can reopen May 7 – with new best practices implemented.

Construction sites will be required to:

  • Conduct daily health screenings for workers
  • Create dedicated entry points or issue stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers are screened every day
  • Identify choke points and high-risk areas (like hallways, elevators, break areas, water stations and buses) and controlling them to enable social distancing
  • Ensure sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite
  • Designate a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies

“Work is going to look and feel a little bit different than it has in the past, but these necessary steps will keep us safe,” Whitmer said.

Other work primarily performed outdoors – like forestry workers, outdoor power equipment technicians and parking enforcement – will also be allowed to resume operations May 7.

Whitmer said her administration will continue to monitor the effect reopening these sectors of the economy has on the number of cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Michigan remains under a stay-at-home order until May 15, though Whitmer began easing restrictions last week.

Whitmer signed an executive order Thursday extending Michigan’s state of emergency to May 28 after the Republican-controlled state Senate and House of Representatives declined to extend the declaration themselves.

“While some members of the Legislature might believe this crisis is over, common sense and all of the scientific data tells us we’re not out of the woods yet,” Whitmer said.

The order also extends the closure of theaters, restaurant dining rooms, bars, gyms, casinos, libraries and other non-essential businesses through May 28.

“Although we are beginning to see the curve flatten, we are not out of the woods yet. We must all continue to be diligent, observe social distancing and limit in-person interactions and services to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “The virus has killed more Michiganders than we lost during the Vietnam war. Extending this order is vital to the health and safety of every Michigander.”

Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, have warned that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could last into next year.

“We have to keep in mind that it may take as long as 18 months for a vaccine to be developed for COVID-19 and we still don’t have the antiviral treatments for this disease,” Khaldun said. “So, life in the foreseeable future will not go back exactly to what it was before COVID-19. This is truly going to be a marathon and not a sprint.”

“We’re still in the early months of fighting this virus in the state,” Khaldun added. “We can beat this disease, but it will really be a long-term effort that will last into next year.”

Michigan had 42,356 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state Friday, and 3,866 people have died from the virus.

Of the confirmed cases, 1,600 are in Genesee County, and 192 people in the county have died from the virus.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...