COVID-19, Regulatory Developments

Michigan Revises COVID-19 Emergency Rules, Withdraws Permanent Rulemaking

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced updates to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (MIOSHA) COVID-19 emergency rules, reflecting new public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health officials. MIOSHA announced its draft permanent rules have been withdrawn, and a public hearing on the permanent rules has been canceled.

Michigan flag facemask, COVID-19

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The updated emergency rules ease face covering and social distance requirements for those who are fully vaccinated and replace industry specifications with performance-based regulations.

“As we work to put Michigan back to work, we are moving quickly to invest in our families, small businesses, and communities to help them succeed,” Whitmer said in a statement.

“The reason we can take these steps is thanks to every Michigander who has stepped up and taken action to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.”

Michigan has reached a 55% vaccination threshold, according to the governor’s office.

Whitmer also announced an updated Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) COVID-19 Gatherings and Face Masks epidemic order, eliminating outdoor capacity limits and increasing indoor social gatherings to 50% capacity beginning June 1.

MIOSHA removed its requirement prohibiting in-person work for job responsibilities that feasibly could be performed remotely. Other updates to the emergency rules, reflecting the recent order from the MDHHS and guidance from the CDC, include:

  • Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees to forgo wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance, provided employers have a clear policy ensuring unvaccinated employees, customers, and visitors continue to follow distancing and face covering requirements.
  • The rules have been revised to focus on performance, eliminating industry-specific requirements.
  • Definitions have been updated to more clearly reflect changes in close contact and quarantining requirements for fully vaccinated employees.
  • Cleaning requirements have been updated to reflect changes in CDC recommendations.
  • Employers must continue to have and implement a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan in accordance with the updated rules.

Besides the written preparedness and response plan requirement, the updated emergency rules include provisions for health surveillance, infection control measures, training, and recordkeeping. Employers in Michigan must provide nonmedical face coverings for unvaccinated employees but are not required to provide them for fully vaccinated employees.

People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the second dose of the 2-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines or 2 weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

MIOSHA filed updated emergency rules with the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules on May 21. The updated emergency rules expire Thursday, October 14.

Employers elsewhere still are waiting for updated employer guidance, enforcement policy, and information about a federal emergency temporary standard (ETS) from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA submitted text of its COVID-19 ETS to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on April 26. The rule still is undergoing regulatory review; the OIRA still has meetings scheduled with stakeholders to discuss the rule.