MARQUETTE, Mich., Dec. 18, 2020 — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon announced today that they would be extending a revised version of the state’s epidemic order that would allow certain activities to resume, while maintaining restrictions on local restaurants and small businesses. In response to the revised order, state Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette), who recently voted in favor of Senate Bill 1253 to require legislative approval to allow epidemic orders to continue after 28 days, called on Gov. Whitmer and Director Gordon to work more closely with legislators and other elected officials to better bring the voices of small business owners to the decision-making table.

“Last night, I joined my Republican colleagues in voting yes on restricting the amount of days the Governor can issue emergency orders through MDHHS to 28 days. After that, the Legislature must approve any extension of those orders. This is not a power grab, but what I believe to be the best way to allow the governor’s office, legislators, healthcare experts and small business owners to work together on solutions,” said Cambensy. “Our small businesses in the U.P. are barely hanging on, especially our restaurants, and they are willing to follow through with increased safety protocols recommended by our medical experts.”

Michigan’s leisure and hospitality sector, which includes the restaurant industry, has been especially battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, declining as much as 32 percent as of October compared to the previous year. Though Michigan has lowered the rate of new cases in recent weeks more rapidly than its midwestern neighbors, many local small businesses are struggling to survive.

“We have to give our small businesses a fighting chance right now to prove they can be creative and innovative to help us keep people safe. This doesn’t have to be an either/or situation where we have to choose health over business. We can do both,” said Cambensy. “Consistently saying no to some businesses and not others, and providing little to no evidence of outbreaks for those restrictions has created growing resentment towards government. We can do better, but we have to come together. This legislation provides a reasonable, common sense solution.”

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