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Michigan Executive Order Outlines How Restaurants and Grocery Stores Should Operate During the Pandemic

Among the new rules, employers must now notify staff and vendors if a worker tests positive for COVID-19

A customer in a big coat carries a red basket through the aisles at Bozek’s Market in Hamtramck.
Grocery store checkout clerks are now required to wear face coverings.
Stock Detroit

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a new executive order over the weekend pertaining to pharmacies and “food-selling establishments” such as grocery stores, restaurants, and convenience stores. The mandate issues more specific guidelines for how food business should operate during the novel coronavirus pandemic including a rule requiring that businesses notify workers and vendors if an employee tests positive from COVID-19. The order is effective immediately and extends through Friday, May 22.

While the state attempts to manage an unprecedented community health and economic crisis, many restaurants and grocery stores have been trying to parse state orders on their own and taking it upon themselves to determine the safest way to operate and serve customers. Whitmer’s new order provides some additional clarity for those businesses on how to move forward.

Previous state orders mandated that grocery stores and big box stores create new systems to make sure customers and staff are maintaining six feet of social distance and required that everyone in the state wear a mask or face covering over their nose and mouth when inside an enclosed public space. It also provides more specific guidelines for operations at stores and restaurants including requiring that businesses provide CDC-approved hand sanitizer to staff and customers, as well as closing down all food tasting stations and self-serve food stations such as salad bars.

Employers are also required to “develop and implement a daily screening program,” for staff as they arrive at work and suggests questions that should be on that questionnaire. Some municipalities such as Oakland County have already issued similar rules.

Food distributors and vendors are also required to “frequently clean and disinfect frequent touch points” on their vehicles between drops. Additionally, the order loosens some requirements on licensing renewals for food businesses, due to the strain on local governments, state agencies, and health departments. The new rule suspends late fees on certain licenses and extends expiration dates for licenses and registrations “until 60 days after the end of the declared states of emergency and disaster.”

The news comes as grocery stores receive greater scrutiny from the city of Detroit as well. Mayor Mike Duggan issued a decree on Friday, requiring all grocery store employees to get a COVID-19 test. The city had previously announced a program to prioritize free tests for essential workers; employers are required to schedule the tests for their employees. Duggan stated that grocery store owners who do not make arrangements for their employees to be tested by Monday, May 11 could be shut down. At least five grocery store employees in Michigan are known to have died due to COVID-19.

Read the governor’s full order on food service business below.

Executive Order for Food Service Establishments

Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the local food industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at detroit@eater.com.

Face Masks Are Required in Grocery Stores Under Michigan’s Updated Stay-at-Home Order [ED]
Detroit Orders Every Grocery Store Employee in the City to Get Tested for COVID-19 [ED]
All Coronavirus Coverage [E]

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