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Rep. Hall: Gov. Whitmer’s rigid approach to shutdowns has small business owners at breaking point
RELEASE|August 26, 2020
Contact: Matt Hall

Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Chair Matt Hall, of Marshall, today issued the following statement after hearing testimony from small business owners and non-profit entities – including ice rinks, bowling alleys, fitness centers and special event operations – throughout the state who cannot open due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ongoing executive orders. Several local business owners explained to the committee that they have not been able to generate income while remaining closed for months, and Gov. Whitmer’s administration has not sufficiently communicated with them about their reopening plans:

“The testimony we heard today follows a consistent and concerning pattern on the issue of reopening sectors of our state’s economy. Small, family-run business owners have had their livelihoods impacted severely by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decisions. They have worked with health officials and at the direction of the governor’s office to formulate plans on how they can reopen safely and responsibly.

“We heard from closed local hockey rinks who teach kids to skate and give kids the chance to participate in youth sports, as well as a parent whose child engages in that participation. Hockey helmets have plexiglass face shields and other natural protective equipment that would help limit spread. These local rinks were placed into workgroups by Gov. Whitmer’s administration with big arenas, but they aren’t large arenas. They are different. This shows a clear lack of understanding of the issue.

“Gov. Whitmer’s administration needs to look at these reopening plans – which were developed months ago – and get serious about finding solutions. We heard Michigan has relied more on federal support than other states and when that starts to run out, we will need an economy that can support that drop-off. This starts by allowing people to resume their livelihoods.

“We also heard many of these local businesses – like bowling centers – rely on income from the fall and winter months, but they won’t be able to access that income if they remain closed. Testimony from both the Michigan and Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Small Business Association of Michigan highlighted the crisis these small businesses face. Local YMCAs perform critical service helping people get in shape and provide people with jobs, but we heard 1,000 staff members were permanently laid off at Grand Rapids facilities and 91 people were permanently laid off within Battle Creek’s YMCA.

“It’s disheartening to hear more stories of hardship and poor communication from Gov. Whitmer’s administration. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities and local economies. They have worked hard to reopen in a way that can keep their customers and staff safe. It would be nice to see that hard work reciprocated from Gov. Whitmer’s office.”

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