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Michigan state employees won’t have to mask at work starting Thursday

lansing
Michigan government officials will lift a mask mandate for state workers beginning Thursday, March 3. (Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com)

March 3: Michigan State University to relax COVID-19 mask mandate

LANSING—Most Michigan government employees will no longer be required to wear a mask to work beginning Thursday unless told otherwise by their department directors. 

The Michigan Office of State sent a letter to state departments on Monday that employees in standard offices and outdoor settings are generally no longer required to wear masks to protect against COVID-19. However, there are exceptions for employees working in high-risk settings such as long-term care, healthcare and correctional facilities. 

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“More changes to policies may be coming in the following weeks,” Director of the Office of the State Employer Liza Estlund-Olson wrote in the letter. “We look forward to seeing more of the smiles of our coworkers as we continue with our work.”

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The change comes as school districts and counties recently lifted mask mandates as the amount of COVID cases and hospitalizations decreased statewide. 

State agencies may have different policies for visitors and to address specific operational needs. Local health departments and organizations can adopt their own masking requirements. According to the Office of State, masking requirements may return as COVID-19 conditions evolve. 

Jana Nicol, an employee at the Michigan Department of Transportation, said she is concerned about officials lifting the mask mandate because her department is requiring employees to return to the Lansing headquarter or regional offices twice a week beginning in May. 

“I’m worried because our building has not been remodeled and has an old air system,” Nicol said. “Even before the pandemic, if a cold was being spread around, it seemed like everyone would get it.”

While Estlund-Olson referenced recently relaxed guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in ending mask requirements, the Michigan Republican Party accused the Whitmer administration of playing politics. 

"The political science continues to shift as polling shows Democrat policies are becoming more and more unpopular," MIGOP Communications Director Gustavo Portela said in a statement Tuesday. 

"With majorities on the line in the U.S. House and Senate, along with a number of gubernatorial elections like here in Michigan, Biden and Whitmer are shifting away from these unpopular policies in an attempt to save their own skins at the ballot box this November. We're not going to let Michiganders forget their policies wreaked havoc on our economy."

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