MI construction to reopen May 7

Michigan construction work to resume May 7, Gov. Whitmer spokeswoman says

LANSING – Residential and commercial construction work will resume in Michigan on May 7, a spokeswoman for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer confirmed Wednesday.

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

“It’s great news,” said Kevin Koehler, president of the Construction Association of Michigan. Koehler said he was still awaiting full details about the startup, first reported by Michigan Information & Research Service, a Capitol newsletter.

Orchard Lake Middle School in West Bloomfield, Michigan on April 9, 2020. A new school is being built on the site of the current school but all construction stopped when COVID-19 hit the region.

Whitmer earlier said that residential and commercial construction would be among the first sectors of the economy to reopen as she gradually lifts her stay-at-home order, which is currently set to continue through May 15.

More:Whitmer wants to extend state of emergency through most of May

More:Whitmer: Construction industry could be next sector of economy to restart

Koehler said the construction industry employs about 200,000 people in Michigan, including the commercial, residential and industrial sectors, plus suppliers.

Some road construction projects have continued under the stay-at-home order, but private projects and public projects on buildings such as schools have come to a halt.

Whitmer has said her administration is taking a hard look at reopening parts of the industrial sector as well.

Some contractors have expressed concern about obtaining necessary construction permits, with many municipal offices closed, as well as obtaining needed personal protective equipment and required inspections.

Matt Bach, a spokesman for the Michigan Municipal League, said local governments are responding to the emergency orders as best they can, as they are handed down.

“It is impossible for us to speculate as to how they will implement an order that hasn’t been issued yet, but we are certain they will do everything they can do to safely comply with an executive order of the governor once they understand the parameters of it,” Bach said.

Business leaders voiced support for Whitmer’s latest move to ease the stay-at-home order.

“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,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“A recent chamber poll showed the majority of workers, 61%, felt safe returning to work, and 60% 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.”

The Michigan Legislature met Wednesday and planned to continue in session Thursday as Republican lawmakers push for a more rapid reopening of Michigan’s economy, especially in rural parts of the state away from hard-hit Detroit.

Many Republican lawmakers are balking at Whitmer’s request to extend the state of emergency — not to be confused with the stay-at-home order — at least until late May.

Whitmer says she has the powers to extend the state of emergency with or without legislative approval.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or
Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4. Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.


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