Four business groups are urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to consider allowing more facilities including gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen.
In the Aug. 20 letter, leaders from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Detroit Regional Chamber and Small Business Association of Michigan wrote that the “business community has supported actions to flatten the curve” on the spread of COVID-19 and that “protecting the health of our fellow citizens is our shared responsibility.”
The group told the governor that business owners in industries that remain closed “would be happy to meet with you and your team to work through your concerns and discuss how they can reopen safely based on science and the latest research.” They called for the “safe and appropriate reopening of these sectors.”
“We recognize and acknowledge that some businesses may have infrastructure and environments to support the needed social distancing to open safely, while others in the same industry may not,” their letter states. “With your leadership, we have flattened the curve and Michigan has been able to safely reopen many sectors of our economy. Thank you. As the State weighs next steps, we collectively urge more be done to position Michigan for a successful economic recovery.
“We believe that if industries like restaurants, public swimming pools, casinos and others can find a way to safely open in some capacity, we can also find a way to safely open gyms, theaters, bowling alleys and other industries.”
The groups noted that Michigan is among a handful of states where theaters, gyms, bowling alleys and others have not been allowed to reopen. That has caused those small businesses “extreme hardship, resulting in permanent closures and layoffs,” such as the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, which laid off more than 1,000 part-time workers at seven locations in the area.
The groups also urged the governor to work with them and legislators on legislation to defer property tax bills.
Whitmer in July vetoed two bills passed by the Legislature to summer property tax payments to relieve struggling businesses and property owners during the pandemic. She cited “fatal constitutional flaws” with the legislation.
As well, the groups asked the governor to back legislation granting business owners liability protections if they follow all state and federal safety guidelines and requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We ask that you and your Administration find ways to give businesses, especially those that remain closed, a fighting chance — and soon,” the letter states.
As of Thursday, Michigan had recorded 94,697 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,368 deaths. That’s an increase of 419 cases and 19 deaths from the day before.