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MIOSHA: No masks required for fully vaccinated workers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a news conference May 24, 2021, to discuss return-to-work guidelines from MIOSHA. (WWMT/Rachel Louise Just)
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a news conference May 24, 2021, to discuss return-to-work guidelines from MIOSHA. (WWMT/Rachel Louise Just)
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Starting Monday, May 24, 2021, Michiganders could return to the office for the first time in months after Michigan hit the 55% mark for people vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a live update, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration had advised that employers don't have to require fully vaccinated employees to wear masks or socially distant when working in-person.

“The reason we can take these steps is thanks to every Michigander who has stepped up and taken action to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe. Together, we are eliminating this once-in-a-century virus, and now we are poised to jumpstart our economy and power it to new highs," Whitmer said.

Additionally, industry-specific requirements for reopening were eliminated and cleaning requirements were updated to reflect changes in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations. Bars and restaurants could reopen common areas, such as pool tables and dance floors.

According to the statement, employers would still have to prepare and implement a preparedness and response plan in accordance with the updated guidelines.

Whitmer said more guidelines from President Joe Biden and federal OSHA were expected to be incorporated in the state's plan.

Michigan reached the first milestone of its "MI Vacc to Normal Plan" on May 10, 2021. After the 55% milestone, the state had ease-ups set for 60%, 65% and 70% vaccinations.

The plan was quickly accelerated after the federal government said people who are fully vaccinated did not need to wear a face mask in certain public areas.

In an update last week, the governor set two dates that would push the state toward a form of normalcy. Health officials were expected to lift outdoor capacity limits in Michigan beginning June 1, 2021, and one month after on July 1, 2021, masks and gathering orders would also be lifted.

MIOSHA rules had yet to be finalized about the "do’s and don’ts" of the new workspace.

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In the meantime some companies are looking at permanently allowing some employees to continue their job remotely, while others are welcoming workers back to the workplace.

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