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June 2020

More Businesses Allowed to Open But Must Be Compliant

The start of June brings further relaxed restrictions in the State of Michigan as the Governor announced an end to the Stay at Home orders applicable to most Michigan businesses. This is the Governor’s recognition of the State’s overall improvement in combatting COVID-19, correlating with improved tracing efforts, health system capacity, testing infrastructure, and a decline in the number of new deaths and confirmed cases. With this Executive Order, Michigan residents and business owners can resume nearly all outdoor recreational activities including outdoor fitness classes, athletic practices, training sessions and games. Beginning on June 4, retail shops could re-open to the general public followed on June 8 by restaurants, bars, swimming pools and day camps. Finally, barbershops, salons and spas may re-open on June 15, 2020.

The excitement of the general public by the long anticipated business re-opening as announced in Executive Orders 2020-110 and 2020-115, should not divert business owners from focusing their attention on the much less publicized requirements that go along with reopening. Executive Order 2020-114 further details Michigan’s requirement that business owners must have a written COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan. Specific guidance also is provided for various business settings such as offices, outdoor work, manufacturing, construction, retail, healthcare, barbers, restaurants, and bars.

The required plan must be written and available to employees, labor unions and customers, via website, internal network or hard copy within two weeks of resuming in-person activities. Considerations for developing a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan include: (1) ensuring and controlling spatial distancing, the flow of traffic and entrance and exit points; (2) identifying opportunities for reducing shared equipment and tools; (3) developing and implementing employee and visitor screening protocols and associated documentation with appropriate levels of confidentiality; (4) developing COVID-19 specific cleaning protocols; (5) developing a process for ensuring adequate PPE for visitors and employees; (6) ensuring that adequate hand sanitization or hand wash stations are available, using touchless technology to the extent possible; (7) implementing an employee training program with appropriate documentation; (8) making sure the Preparedness and Response Plan is consistent with current executive orders and health-based guidance; and (9) preparing a detailed protocol for what must be done in the event an employee is identified with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Additionally, businesses are required to designate one or more worksite supervisors to implement, monitor, and report on the COVID-19 control strategies developed in the Preparedness and Response Plan and such a supervisor must remain on-site at all times when employees are present.

Navigating the almost daily blitz of new Executive Orders, CDC guidelines, OSHA and MIOSHA memorandums, County and Michigan Health department requirements is likely the last thing on the mind of business owners racing to re-open their businesses. The potential for class action claims and other civil claims has been widely reported. Having a comprehensive and narrowly tailored COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan is the first step in protecting the health and safety of your workforce and clients and helping to shield your business from civil litigation. It is a virtual certainty that a rash of new Covid-19 cases that are traced to a business with an inadequate plan will result in well-publicized lawsuits.

We are assisting Michigan businesses with COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plans and related documentation. Within three weeks of the first presumptive positive COVID-19 case in Michigan, the attorneys at Foley, Baron, Metzger & Juip, PLLC have been developing company specific COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plans for their clients. The FBMJ approach considers the unique sectors, workforce and work environments individual to their respective clients, and tailors a plan to meet that company’s specific needs at locations ranging from south Texas to northern Michigan. To help your business maintain compliance with the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-114 and related orders you may contact one of the attorneys listed below: 

Rich Baron
Ben Fruchey
Nick Tatro