Detroit Automakers Reinstate Mask Mandates in Michigan

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
detroit automakers reinstate mask mandates in michigan

General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford Motor Co. collectively decided to reinstate masking mandates in Michigan over the weekend — stating that the impacted factories were in areas with high levels of COVID-19.

The automakers had lifted mask requirements for employees after the backlash against government-backed restrictions and mandates hit a fever pitch in March. While protests had begun swelling by the fall of last year, the Canadian Freedom Convoy that was forcibility disbanded in February drew national attention to the issue. Despite Detroit manufacturers suggesting they would walk back restrictions (if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was okay) for months, ditching masks initially involved a series of stipulations about vaccinations and job titles. It wasn’t until public outrage spilled over into the real world that sweeping changes began to occur.

To be fair, infections had also declined between January and March of 2021. But previous dips in infection rate had gone largely ignored in terms of adjusting protocols and the uptick we’ve seen in May has been relatively modest thus far. Recent hospitalization rates have also stayed low with admissions to the intensive care unit (ICU) being the lowest since the pandemic officially began early in 2020. This is according to the CDC’s own data as of May 16th, 2022.

However, Detroit’s trio has maintained that they’ll do basically whatever the CDC tells them and the national health agency recently listed six of the most populous counties in the State of Michigan as having higher than average infection rates and has recommended wearing masks indoors and in public settings.

According to Reuters, the relevant facilities will require all persons (regardless of their vaccination status) to be masked upon entering. On Sunday, the United Auto Workers (UAW) stated that if any facility under its control “is located in high-risk counties as identified by the CDC, they will require masking and physical distancing.”

From Reuters:

Ford said it was temporarily reinstating a face mask requirement at all of its plants located in areas deemed high-risk by the CDC.

Stellantis said that starting on Monday, “company-issued face masks will again be required for employees, contractors and visitors at all Stellantis facilities” in those Michigan counties. The company added, “it is expected that the requirement will be in place for the next two weeks.”

GM said it “will be implementing COVID protection measures at our facilities in Oakland, Wayne, Livingston and Macomb counties given the CDC has now listed them as high risk.”

One wonders how this will play out in the coming weeks. The tolerance for lockdown measures doesn’t seem to have improved and we’ve seen how stringent health protocols can absolutely obliterate productivity. China is presently instituting some of the most aggressive COVID-19 restrictions on the planet and has been attributed as one of the leading causes of shortages that are only anticipated to worsen through the summer. Granted, masking is not the same as forcibly keeping people locked indoors and/or sleeping on factory floors.

But there’s a very real possibility that the resulting backlash to mandates could result in a lapse in productivity stateside. Output has remained strained worldwide since 2020, leading one to assume that enhanced health and safety measures could be counterproductive in terms of industrial fruitfulness. This is especially true if they end up encouraging protests or (less likely due to the UAW position in Michigan) a worker’s strike. Automakers are likely weighing that against an assumed number of employees that might be out sick if masking were not reinstated and upsetting the federal government.

The industry has suggested the returning mandates should only last about two weeks, which is roughly how long the CDC said national health restrictions would be in place during the onset of the pandemic.

[Image: Miljan Zivkovic/Shutterstock]

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19 of 135 comments
  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on May 16, 2022

    Just here for when the usual $#!+heads start gleefully celebrating unvaccinated folks dying again.

    • See 9 previous
    • Jeff S Jeff S on May 17, 2022

      @Art--And may I add I would not celebrate you or anyone getting Covid-19 even if you refused a vaccine but I would say you made the choice and you have to accept the consequences which is far from being a leftist viewpoint. If a child or someone for some other reason could not get a vaccine that is a different story but if you can get a vaccine and you have the choice then you need to be responsible for any consequences. That is not dancing on anyone's grave or wishing the harm it is just being realistic.

  • Teddyc73 Teddyc73 on May 17, 2022

    Thee comments are proof...this country is extremely divided and totally incapable of coming together. The hatred, misinformation, garbage, intolerance and total ignorance is so deep, so ingrained, and entrenched there is simply no way we will ever be one nation under God. So sad.

    • See 6 previous
    • FreedMike FreedMike on May 17, 2022

      @MB: "I’m not suggesting it’s stupid to say we want competition for energy; the point is, if such alternative energy sources were practical and cost effective, they would already exist." By this logic, circa 1975, using another product: "I’m not suggesting it’s stupid to say we want competition for typewriters; the point is, if such alternatives to typewriters were practical and cost effective, they would already exist." If your attitude had held sway in, say, 1980, the machine that you used to call me a "ranting ignoramus" would have never existed. Technology evolves. It's evolving right now. Why am I a "ranting ignoramus" for wanting more evolution?

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂