Detroit automakers reinstate Michigan’s mask requirements

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General Motors, Stellantis and Ford Motor Co. jointly decided over the weekend to reinstate Michigan’s face covering requirements — saying the affected plants are in areas with high levels of COVID-19.

Automakers have lifted the requirement for employees to wear masks after backlash against government-backed restrictions and mandates peaked in March. The Canadian Liberty team, which was forcibly disbanded in February, brought the issue to national attention as protests began to swell last fall. While Detroit manufacturers have been advising for months to lift restrictions (if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says all is well), getting rid of masks initially involved a slew of regulations around vaccinations and health certificates. It wasn’t until the public outrage spilled over into the real world that the sea change began.

To be fair, infection rates also declined between January 2021 and March 2021. But in terms of protocol adjustments, the previous drop in infection rates has largely been ignored, and the upward trend we’ve seen in May has been relatively modest so far. Recent hospitalizations have also been low, with intensive care unit (ICU) admissions at their lowest levels since the pandemic officially began in early 2020. This is based on CDC’s own data as of May 16, 2022.

However, the Detroit trio insist they will basically do whatever the CDC tells them, and the state health agency recently listed six of Michigan’s most populous counties as having higher infection rates than average, and recommended Wear a mask indoors and in public places.

according to Reuters, affected facilities will require all personnel (regardless of their vaccination status) to wear masks upon entry. On Sunday, the United Auto Workers (UAW) said that if a facility under its control “is located in a high-risk county identified by the CDC, masks and physical distancing are required.”

since Reuters:

Ford said it would temporarily reinstate mask requirements for all of its plants in areas the CDC deems high-risk.

Stellantis said that starting Monday, “employees, contractors and visitors to all Stellantis facilities in Michigan will again require company-issued masks.” “The requirement is expected to be implemented within the next two weeks,” the company added.

GM said it will “implement COVID-19 precautions at our plants in Oakland, Wayne, Livingston and Macomb counties, as the CDC has now classified them as high risk.”

We wonder how it will play out in the coming weeks. Containment tolerance doesn’t seem to improve, and we’ve seen strict health protocols absolutely destroy productivity. China is currently imposing some of the most aggressive COVID-19 restrictions on the planet and is seen as the main cause of the shortage, which is expected to only worsen over the summer. Admittedly, masking is not the same as forcibly locking people inside and/or sleeping on factory floors.

However, the backlash caused by these directives is likely to lead to a decline in U.S. productivity. Global production has been strained since 2020, suggesting that enhanced health and safety measures could backfire on industrial profitability. This is especially true if they end up encouraging protests or (unlikely due to the UAW’s position in Michigan) worker strikes. Automakers are likely to set prices based on a hypothetical number of employees who could get sick if they don’t restore face coverings and rattle the federal government.

Industry insiders suggest that a return warrant should only last about two weeks, i.e. On how long the CDC says state health restrictions will be in place at the start of the pandemic.

[Image: Miljan Zivkovic/Shutterstock]

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