MI Safe Start Plan: Phase 4 Explained

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Now that Michigan has transitioned into phase four of the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan, what does this mean for businesses attempting to resume operations in a safe and secure way? The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO, and Brad Williams, vice president of Government Relations, answered this question in a Tele-Town Hall covering everything businesses need to know about the next phase of the restart.

Understanding why Detroit was hit so hard by the virus is complicated. Our international airport likely played a major role, explained Baruah, along with the automotive industry’s ties to China. Infection rates have also been higher among African Americans, and Detroit is a majority Black city, noted Baruah.

While some critics argue that Michigan should have opened up sooner along with the other states opening up, this wasn’t possible since Michigan was in a worse position.

“Our economic success is going to be really determined by our health success,” said Baruah. “We need our health outcomes to improve before people really feel comfortable going out in any mass numbers to ensure we have the economic success our businesses deserve.”

The Chamber’s Role

Through the Chamber, the business community has played a role in shaping the pathway for the governor’s orders. Although Gov. Whitmer has not always taken the advice of business leaders, she has always been open to hearing it.

The governor reached out to the Chamber the initial weekend before the stay-at-home order was put in place, said Baruah. The Chamber worked with other business groups throughout the state to craft what the business message is.

Baruah was pleased when the governor actually took their advice. This included essential businesses having the ability to identify their own critical supply chains, and the ability for nonessential businesses to identify essential staff members to perform essential operations like keeping inventory safe.

Where We Are

We are no longer under a stay-at-home order, explained Williams. The presumption is that you can now leave your home with or without good reason and with fewer restrictions.

While the stay-at-home order has been lifted, we are still under an emergency order, and will likely remain this way for a long time, said Williams. This gives Gov. Whitmer the power to close schools, issue the stay-at-home orders, to open or close barber shops, etc.

“An emergency order may ascend well beyond this calendar year… until we have a vaccine and beyond that,” said Williams.

This doesn’t mean that the governor will be continually opening and closing hair salons. But it is important that under a public health emergency like this that we have an executive who can respond quickly, noted Williams. The good news is that we are heading toward some recognizable normalcy.

For now, businesses should maintain social distancing as much as possible, and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees and customers. Offices should consider how to maintain social distancing, and keep employees still working from home when possible.

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