MARQUETTE, Mich., May 18, 2020 — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced today that specific lower-risk regions of Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula, could resume limited retail, restaurants and office work operations beginning Friday, May 22, with additional safeguards for workers and patrons. The announcement follows a continued statewide decline in reported COVID-19 cases and deaths, largely due to social distancing measures in place over the last several weeks. In welcoming the news, State Representative Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) had the following to say:

“I’m grateful for Governor Whitmer’s leadership in declaring a strict Stay Home order in March. By taking an aggressive approach at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, our rural hospitals and healthcare system in the U.P. were protected. We would not see a partial reopening of our regional economy this early without the governor making that tough decision to do so, and having U.P. residents take the order seriously speaks volumes of our grit and determination to overcome any barriers as Yoopers.”

One area that U.P. residents have still expressed concern over are the influx of tourists that traditionally frequent the U.P. in the summer months. Many small businesses rely on tourism as their lifeblood and wouldn’t be able to survive without a partial reopening soon. Representative Cambensy hopes the efforts of both public and private partners to prepare for reopening will help reassure community members that are still worried for their safety.

“In the last few weeks, Legislators and economic development leaders have been working with our U.P. hospitals on creating more transparency of Covid-19 cases at their facilities, what their occupancy rates are, how many ventilators are available, and what their plan is to effectively deal with any uptick in cases should they occur. We also have our U.P. public universities at the table to be large-scale testing facilities in order to serve our community members but also reassure them that they have developed campus-wide testing protocols for staff and students. And our small businesses and restaurants have created reopening plans similar to our grocery stores with required social distancing, masks, and greater sanitary cleaning plans in place.”

Representative Cambensy says making sure residents stay safe was the top priority in planning for a reopening of the U.P. economy.

“Wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and following social distancing recommendations in public are ways we can respectfully protect other people in our communities as we reopen our economy. I think it’s fair to ask residents and visitors in the U.P. to do these small things in order to keep our families, friends, neighbors and communities healthy and safe going forward. It’s our U.P. spirit to naturally want to work together to support each other.”

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