Michigan Majority Leader Sen. Shirkey wants reopening metrics for restaurants released

Shirkey butts heads with health experts, says guidelines are unfair to food-service industry

Michigan Sen. Shirkey wants reopening metrics for restaurants
Michigan Sen. Shirkey wants reopening metrics for restaurants

LANSING, Mich. – Top Republican leaders are at odds with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer again. This time they’re butting heads over the closure of bars and restaurants to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said he believes the COVID-19 ‘pause’ unfairly singled out the restaurant industry

Dec. 4, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 389,032; Death toll now at 9,661

Shirkey has long been frustrated with Whitmer and her policies and he’s asking for more information from the governor.

In a press conference Thursday, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said the recent rise in COVID cases emanates from several places.

“The top categories for identified outbreaks continues to be long term care facilities, followed by K-12 schools, manufacturing, health care, office settings, and restaurants and bars,” Khaldun said.

Shirkey said he’s concerned about bars and restaurants and released a statement Friday that reads, in part: “We demand Gov. Whitmer provide the metrics by which restaurants in Michigan can reopen in preparation for the expiration of her latest shut down order on December 9th. Business owners deserve adequate time to ready their establishments for expanded operations.”

Shirkey said he’s frustrated that the foodservice industry is often shut down.

“We agree that individual businesses that violate workplace health and safety requirements should face consequences and we implore the governor to focus on addressing the bad actors, rather than continue to impose mandates that threaten the livelihood of an entire industry,” the statement reads.

Thursday, Whitmer agreed that restaurants need a helping hand.

“There are also other things that we are looking to see how we can alleviate the burden on these businesses and, including encouraging the public to get takeout to support your local restaurant,” Whitmer said. “Buy gift certificates for people for the holiday if you’re looking for gifts and want to also support your local restaurant. We want to keep them afloat.”

Whitmer released a statement that reads, in part: “If Sen. Shirkey was seriously concerned about the data, he would join the weekly data calls with state health experts that he has been invited to but has chosen to skip. On a day when Michigan reported 7,146 new cases and 175 deaths -- the fifth highest since March -- this is what the senator chooses to talk about.”

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About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.