Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reopen construction industry May 7

Gov. Whitmer said Monday that Michigan's $20 billion construction industry would be the first to reopen. (Shutterstock)

May 7 update: Michigan stay-at-home order extended to May 28

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is planning to allow residential and commercial construction crews back to work by May 7 as part of her plan to restart the Michigan economy she shut down to battle the coronavirus pandemic, her office confirmed Wednesday morning. 

The governor is expected to sign an executive order by Friday, a development first reported by the subscription-based Michigan Information & Research Service newsletter in Lansing. 

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the governor would open a lower-risk field like she has said at previous press conferences,” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown told Bridge Magazine. 

Whitmer said Monday that the construction industry would be among the first to reopen under a “MI Safe Start” plan developed in consultation with business, health care and labor leaders. Construction is a $20 billion industry in Michigan, contributing some 4 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, according to the Association of General Contractors of America.

The governor has not yet disclosed details of that plan, or a firm timeline for implementation, but has said the state will restart the economy in phases based on risk, workplace type and region.

The building industry is “super excited” to get back to work, said Kevin Koehler, president of the Construction Association of Michigan, who noted that his group and others have spent weeks urging the change. 

“We are a safe industry to begin with, and we have a lot of safety protocols in place,” he told Bridge, explaining the ease of implementing social distancing policies at outdoor worksites.

“We all have safety professionals on staff that manage it for us, so we’re introducing COVID protocols, we’re ramping up our (personal protection equipment) and we’re ready to go back to work.”

Koehler’s group represents roughly 2,400 commercial and industrial contractors and construction industry suppliers. 

The industry “was prepared to go back to work” weeks ago, he said, but “I think the governor did what she had to do to protect the health of our citizens.”

“We would have liked to have gone back to work sooner, but we’re just glad to be one of the first groups that are going back to get the economy going.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, has questioned the governor’s economic response to the pandemic and said on Facebook he thinks the construction industry is ready to open immediately and should not wait until May 7.

“No material change in ‘anything’ over next 8 days other than increases in frustration, confusion, stress, and maybe even anger,” Shirkey wrote on social media Wednesday morning.

“And losing money, pride, construction season time, and on and on ... What possible logic? Other than ‘it’s all about control.’”

The Detroit Regional Chamber applauded Whitmer’s approach. 

“The continued pragmatic and safe measures to get Michigan back to work that Gov. Whitmer is taking, such as opening up the construction sector on May 7, aligns with the Chamber’s point of view for reactivating the economy in phases,” President and CEO Sandy Baruah said in a statement. 

“A recent Chamber poll showed the majority of workers, 61 perent, felt safe returning to work, and 60 percent reported they trusted their employer to keep them safe. The governor’s focus on public health infused with thoughtful input from business will yield better health and economic outcomes.”

Whitmer on Friday relaxed regulations for landscapers and plant nurseries while extending her stay-at-home order through May 15. 

In a Monday briefing, the governor said she will begin phasing in a broader economic restart in the next week or two with construction firms and others that work outside, said Whitmer, who on Friday relaxed restrictions for landscapers and plant nurseries while extending her stay-at-home order through May 15. 

The state is also taking a “hard look” at the industrial manufacturing sector and when facilities like auto plants can reopen, she told reporters. 

“I will be guided by the data, not artificial timelines,” Whitmer said in a briefing at the Romney Building in downtown Lansing. “If we move forward and everything looks OK for a few weeks, we can look to expand it.”

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Comments

Michelle
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 9:56am

Instead she'll be guided by artificial data and recommendations!? She is incompetent and her restrictions have had no common sense involved in their implementation. Nobody but Whitmer understands them? This is open, but this isn't....ridiculous! Pretty sad that Big Sister doesn't believe people are able to care for themselves and/or their businesses.

Think of others
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 10:37am

"Michelle" said "Pretty sad that Big Sister doesn't believe people are able to care for themselves and/or their businesses." Here's the problem with your thinking. She's not protecting you from yourself. She protecting everyone else from you. Your language suggests you only care about yourself and your ability to make money above all else, like the health of your employees, customers, and the general public.

It's like smoking. You can evaluate the risks and choose to do it, but when you smoke close to others, it's our rights that you undermine. Your freedom ends where ours begins.

Tom Madden
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 4:21pm

Hey “Think of Others’. You wanna smack Michelle down with some false equivalency connected to smoking and affecting others. For the record, our governor has blatantly abused our basic rights under the constitution of the U.S. and Michigan with idiot restrictions on buying seeds and paint and threatening legal protestors You said, “Your freedom ends where ours begins” .....you have got to be delusional! According to our governor, our freedoms are what she says they are and don’t forget it. Anyone that thinks construction people are more prone to pass along Covid than people standing in line to buy lottery tickets or liquor doesn’t have much common sense.

Wow
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 9:01am

Sounds like the smoking analogy is not only right on point, but the truth appropriately struck a nerve.

Better luck next time with trying to dodge and spin the reality of the virus and freedom of others. Most people are NOT idiots. When they learned the truth about smoking, they acted appropriately and stopped. Most people don't smoke anymore.

The same is true for the virus. Consumers will not support an economy unless they feel proper precautions are put in place, not just to protect businesses from themselves to make profits, but to protect employees and customers as well, public safety, like police protections.

Speaking of false equivalencies, people understand that the lottery helps fund the government and now is precisely the time that we need strong competent government, which many states are providing. If you want chaos, move to Georgia, or Somalia.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 11:11am

Yep, that pretty much describes Gov. Karen's commands to us lowly peasants to a "T".

It's a shame that there wasn't a neutral journalistic endeavor of some sort, which would go and directly ask her questions about the inconsistencies in her edicts, Constitutional Authority behind her orders and hypocrisy in her actions.

Too bad such an entity doesn't exist.

Making fun of Kevin
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 10:08am

Thank you for some more deep wisdom where you call the governor a name to make fun of her. [Sarcasm: THAT'S how it works Trump. Asking scientists to prove YOUR crazy off-the-cuff theory about injecting disinfectant into humans is not sarcasm, it's just dumb.]

duane
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 4:07pm

Making,
You must be another of those who didn't listen to what was said then what the President's question was? Do you only listen to Maddow and parrot what her cronies say?
From the President's question, in context the remarks about what is killing the virus in the air, and how others [Drs. Fauci and Brix, etc.] it seems the President is always asking questioning and challenge traditional thinking so when he asks for a recommendation on proposed action he has confidence people have thought more about the problem then what media consensus is.

Ruby Susan
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 1:03pm

Michelle, that's a great point- I hadn't thought of it yet. What studies, data, and experts is she relying on to make these decisions? This is a free country and we're all smart people- why won't she let us see the information that she's using to make these decisions?

Support Gov
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 4:15pm

"Ruby" she's relying on New Zealand, South Korea data, you know, countries where the virus is under control.

Anonymous
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 5:24pm

You say she's "relying on New Zealand"... what the heck does that even mean? She's relying on what data from South Korea exactly to make her decisions on when to open up certain industries? You're doubling down on stupid, buddy.

Mirror
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 9:35am

"You're doubling down on stupid, buddy."

Guarded optimist
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 10:31am

That's good news. I hope they take proper precautions so we don't see spikes of new cases.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 12:51pm

Everyone here got through the Hong Kong flu (now known as Influenza A) without literally shutting down an entire country.

The numbers were higher than what we'll see with the Huwan Virus with things like herd immunity, basic hygiene and common sense helping to control the outbreak back then.

Tanking the economy was never necessary.

You're nuts
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 4:11pm

I'm here typing for those who are no longer with us, for those who may have survived, but now risk strokes, for those not exposed, but have compromised immune systems. What the heck did you survive? Do you know for a fact if you were exposed to the virus? Did you test positive? What is your evidence that the economy ever tanked, the stock market? Money is nothing but IOUs and we issued tons of those. The economy is sound. Many people who perform essential services even profited. Lastly, please don't fault the governor for following Trump's guidelines. She's doing a better job than Pence who refuses to follow his own guidelines.

Kevin Grand is ...
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 6:03pm

He may be nuts... but he is definitely WRONG.
Kevin Grand is WRONG..... again
my new screen name!

Kevin Grand
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 8:37pm

You DID catch the part where I said that it's still here, right?

The simple fact that you're able to type anything above just shot down your entire post.

Next.

To delusional Kevin
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 9:39am

"I'm here typing for those who are no longer with us, for those who may have survived, but now risk strokes, for those not exposed, but have compromised immune systems. What the heck did you survive? Do you know for a fact if you were exposed to the virus? Did you test positive? What is your evidence that the economy ever tanked, the stock market? Money is nothing but IOUs and we issued tons of those. The economy is sound. Many people who perform essential services even profited. Lastly, please don't fault the governor for following Trump's guidelines. She's doing a better job than Pence who refuses to follow his own guidelines."

Um we are sheltering in place. THAT's why most of us are still here.

Agnosticrat 2.0
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 6:00pm

1968 Hong Kong Flu pandemic: The estimated number of deaths was 1 million worldwide and about 100,000 in the United States in a years time
COVID19 pandemic : over 3 million and still growing worldwide and 1,055,455 and also growing in the U S in 4.5 months.

Amazed
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 10:01am

Thanks, it's amazing how most of the people who want to reopen the economy won't even admit the fact that there is a dangerous pandemic.

Marshall
Sat, 05/02/2020 - 7:19am

You seem to be comparing flu DEATHS with Covid 19 CASES. Your point might be valid(or not), but your comparison is stupid.

Cathy
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 12:32pm

Just facts. Total deaths in seven U.S. states hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic are up nearly 50 percent from the usual figures, according to new death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.). The analysis of the seven states — Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and New Jersey — shows 9,000 more excess deaths over and above the 18,000 already attributed to Covid-19, indicating the coronavirus death toll is far higher than official records suggest. I source this info from the website Just Security. Others may find interesting.
Don't disregard life, stay home when possible.

duane
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 8:49am

Cathy,
Do you think every decision should be the totals of a whole state or by distinct areas within a state?
The Michigan UP has a physical barrier from the rest of Michigan and yet the Governor is enforcing rules on the UP that don't reflect the Covid 19 numbers/reality for those in the UP. Is Governor Whitmer acting as a Governor of the whole state or just southeast Michigan? Do you believe live is on counted by the number of days the body functions or does it include a quality of life?
If the boundary of northern Michigan drawn from Oceana County across the southern boundary of Bay County on through the Thumb would their Covid 19 be significantly different from Wayne, Oakland, Macomb COunties, should the whole of the Mitten be treated the same, the Governor does?

Duane is Dolt
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 9:49am

The UP is connected by bridge to the LP. Are you saying we should close the bridge to the UP and disrupt supply chains? The UP is connected to Wisconsin by land and, with boating allowed, by water to Minnesota. Plus there are no restrictions on flights. Do you want the governor to keep people from those and other states out? What makes you think the virus already in the UP will not continue to spread, the way it is in Kent county? You're living in a delusional reality that is just going to make reopening our economy more difficult.

duane
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 3:43pm

Duane,
By your thinking a single 4 lane bridge between upper and lower is more like travel between Bay and Saginaw counties than between Michigan and Ohio. I see the bridge is already a controlled access with even less travel than between Jackson and Washtenaw counties.
You make a better case for the UP to be more interactive with Wisconsin, travel to/from Minnesota across Superior this winter is discouraging to most casual travelers.
You seem to discount Yooper culture/lifestyle. I lean much on lifestyle/culture influencing practices and contacts. I suspect that southwest Detroit responses to different influences from what influences the UP, so why not have each area manage the risks differently?

middle of the mit
Fri, 05/01/2020 - 1:37am

And in these next two posts is where middle of the mit hits duane with a hammer that he can not deny or recover from.

Prepare yourself duane.

Are ya ready? Are ya sure your "perception" isn't clouding your vision?

[[[Cathy,
Do you think every decision should be the totals of a whole state or by distinct areas within a state?}}}

What does middle have to say that?

Isn't government that governs closest governs best? OHh and duane will agree.......until that government doesn't agree with him. Then it's STATE CONTROL. Ask Texas. HA HA HA HA HA!!! And if the State isn't conservative? Then the FED...........but..........only if it is conservative.

{{{The Michigan UP has a physical barrier from the rest of Michigan and yet the Governor is enforcing rules on the UP that don't reflect the Covid 19 numbers/reality for those in the UP. Is Governor Whitmer acting as a Governor of the whole state or just southeast Michigan? Do you believe live is on counted by the number of days the body functions or does it include a quality of life?}}}

Now I lost cohesion with what duane trying to say half way through what he was trying to say. Can you figure out why? He pulled a Trump. Go ahead! Pull out any transcript of what Trump says and try to decipher it. It's all in the last sentence.

I will at least try.

duane, Matt not Matt G has already stated that he wants SE MI barricaded off. I told him if the Governor did that your side would be apoplectic and unruly. But if she opens up the whole State, all those people who have commented on his site from up there? They are going to despise the southern MI people more than you could ever imagine. Why? Because they are going to flock to Northern MI and the UP and they are going to spread the virus unknowingly or knowingly. WE already know that because they think it's nothing than the flu......and so do you.

They all ready want to be their own State, without much of an economic engine. Go ahead. Open up the State and travel to the UP! Spread the virus up north of US 10! DO IT!

{{ Do you believe live is on counted by the number of days the body functions or does it include a quality of life?
If the boundary of northern Michigan drawn from Oceana County across the southern boundary of Bay County on through the Thumb would their Covid 19 be significantly different from Wayne, Oakland, Macomb COunties, should the whole of the Mitten be treated the same, the Governor does?}}

I am at the point duane where I say let you little punks have what you want and the suffering will be on you.

Because if and when it happens? I will NEVER LET YOU LIVE IT DOWN. And I suspect if and when you get your way, because whiners always do when they are conservatives, you will never be elected into office for a looooooong time.

Think........ like........how long it took for republicans to have any power in congress after the Great Depression.

duane
Sat, 05/02/2020 - 11:32am

middle,
There you go again, claiming others are saying things that they never did. I never said anything about barricading any Michigan counties, I pointed out that the access between various counties was different as were the culture and practices. The point of that was that Michigan is no homogenous as the Governor is trying to manage it through her proclamations. The UP is different and it would be appropriate to recognize that difference in the restriction the Governor places on the UP vs what she does in Detroit. I am especially surprised that with all your complaint about how the rest of Michigan doesn't understand northern Michigan you would also encourage Governor Whitmer to accommodate the difference in her restriction on life across Michigan.
I will surely not be elected into public office because I choose not to run, life is getting ever shorter and I enjoy my wife company too much. What I wonder is, first how will you recognize whose ideas proved most effective. What metrics will you be using to justify your standing up and pronouncing from the proverbial 'rooftops' how you were right and who was wrong? And if your expectations don't happen will you even write on Bridge how you were wrong and who was right? If Trump is reelected this November, you acknowledge here on Bridge that your prediction of it being a 'looooooong time' for GOP election to leadership was wrong? will you admit to being wrong if the Repubicans retain control of both houses of the Michigan Legislature? Just wonder if you are willing to be accountable for what you say/claim.
As for my way about elections, I would like there to be a summary of the role and the legal responsibilities for each elected office be provide to the registered voters in the respective districts, I would like there to be a summary list of knowledge and skills [beyond the required responsibilities] for an effective office holder by office be provide to each prospective voter, and I would like to seek a public rating system for those knowledge and skills by candidate. Do you really disagree with my wants?

Yum
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 4:31pm

How about that meatpacking industry without PPE, police? How about nurses wearing garbage bags?

No way
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 10:10am

It's all nasty. I'm good, thank you.

Don
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 9:13am

well they have never stop working on I--75 or Leper road in Oxford!!
You can see construction going on all over the place!!!

LOL
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 10:03am

Fixing the damn roads?

duane
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 11:48pm

LOL,
How much of that $4 billion from feds to Michigan do you think will make it to paying for Covid 19 care and stocking medical supplies [like ventilators], how much to fic the damn roads, and how much to the Governor's pet projects no in the budget?

Anna
Fri, 05/08/2020 - 10:36am

Thanks, Governor. Better late than never.

Alan Hoyt
Sun, 05/24/2020 - 5:44pm

Construction, repair, and maintenance are vital in the battle against COVID-19. At each construction site, it is necessary to conduct discussions about the dangers of coronavirus. It is possible to add something like that in a total amount of hours of safety training in order to qualify for https://www.safetycardtracker.com/ an SST Card.