Opinion: Permanent COVID-19 restrictions don't follow science or sense

This column originally appeared in the Detroit News.

Policymakers in Lansing aren’t as eager to get “vacc to normal” as they’d like you to believe.

Next Wednesday, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) will hold a hearing on a proposal to take Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s temporary COVID-19-related workplace restrictions and make them permanent.

The administration’s decision to push forward with a plan to permanently hamstring workers, workplaces and customers came as a massive (and unscientific) blow to communities across the state who’d hoped that new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and Whitmer’s vaccination-linked re-opening plan meant an eventual return to the proverbial “normal.”

It turns out the only things normal in Lansing these days are rules that don’t make any sense, and the double-standard of Democrat politicians breaking these ill-formed regulations.

Just ask the CDC, which last week issued new guidance telling the nation there’s no need to wear a mask indoors once an individual is fully vaccinated. So why not rescind these proposed permanent COVID rules?

Back home in Michigan, we’re used to being told by the governor to “trust the science.” It’s long past time she takes her own advice.

Science tells us that vaccinations all but eliminate the risk of COVID transmission.

Recent studies tell us that the odds of catching the virus from a surface are infinitesimally small.

We know that being outside makes it all but impossible for the virus to accumulate in quantities large enough to infect others and that expert guidance says it is safe to go mask free after vaccination.

Good luck telling that to Whitmer’s state Leviathan tasked with crafting, overseeing and enforcing workplace rules.

MIOSHA’s proposed permanent rules couldn’t make less sense.

They’d require you to wear a mask at an outdoor sporting event, even if you and everyone else in the stadium are vaccinated.

They’d force you to wear a mask “at all times” at your gym or fitness center.  The proposed Whitmer rules don’t care if you’re immunized, if everyone riding a stationary bike is vaccinated, or if COVID infection rates are at zero.

Want to beat the traffic after the Tigers fall behind six runs in the 8th inning?  You might be out of luck. The rules force stadiums to establish a “safe exit procedure” like only dismissing patrons by row or ticket number.

Barbershops and salons are forced to limit access to their waiting rooms permanently.

Masks at the grocery store? Permanent. You’re immunized, and we’ve beaten the pandemic? Still permanent.

Businesses must do daily health screenings and maintain thorough records of their employees’ coughs and colds. Permanently.

The vast majority of other states won’t be required to do this, which will be a compelling reason for many businesses to locate elsewhere.

Even while the governor touts her decision to let employees return to their offices later this month, her administration is fighting to create a permanent rule requiring every employer in Michigan to make a policy encouraging their workers to stay away from the job site.

Michigan’s put up with a lot these past 15 months. We’ve battled a global pandemic, we’ve followed the rules and we’ve gotten our vaccines.

The science is precise: When we’re immunized, we’re safe. 

The administration’s proposed permanent rules and restrictions won’t make us healthier and are malignant for our culture and communities.  

They’ll remind us every day, though, just how much Lansing cares. And how little it thinks. 

Greg McNeilly is chairman of the Michigan Freedom Fund.

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