Businesses work to protect employees reporting for duty


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Several employees at essential businesses are working to keep healthy as they continue working. 

This comes after a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday. The order requires all Michigan residents to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel. 

Whitmer’s office wrote in exemptions for essential businesses, like gas stations, grocery stores and banks.

“I’m not sure that anyone could have fully prepared for COVID-19 and the implications of this virus,” Tim Mackay with Level One Bank said.

Level One has 16 banks across Michigan. Mackay says the rise in cases, coupled with the stay at home order, has forced them to change some practices.

“Early last week, we made the decision to close our lobbies and make them accessible by appointment only, while maintaining our drive ups as full service,” Mackay said.

The bank says at this point, nearly 95% of their staff is working remotely, while about 60 employees are still working at the bank locations. To keep the workers healthy, the bank says they’ve also hired crews to do additional cleaning.

The order also has exemptions for childcare providers, so those who are still working have a place to bring their kids.

“I know some of my parents, if they didn’t have to go to work, they wouldn’t,” childcare provider Wanda Thomas said. 

Thomas says since the stay-at-home order issued Monday, she’s seen fewer parents showing up for services. She says to protect the kids, herself and her own family, she’s had to make changes. 

“What I decided to do as of yesterday is to just take the kids at the door because before I was allowing everyone to come inside and I’d just wipe down as they leave,” Thomas said. “It feels bad to me because it’s like I’m blocking them out, but it’s just what I have to do right now. It’s just for the time being.”

Both the bank and Thomas say, though this outbreak has come with many changes, they’re happy to help when their community needs it. 

“We put our own selves on the line to try to help and sometimes it goes unappreciated, but we do what we can do and put our best in it,” said Thomas.

Thomas says her facility will remain open until she receives direction otherwise.

Level One Banks say during this time, they’ll be working with their clients who have loans on repayment schedules. The bank plans to waive fees and charges. They say they want to continue being there for their clients.

“We want our clients to know that we’re here for them and we’re committed to making sure we help both our commercial small businesses and consumers through this difficult time,” Mackay said.

As of now, Whitmer’s executive order will be in effect until April 13.


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