Disappointment, Shock, Sadness Prevail at SWM Regional Chamber Following Extended Dining Restrictions

It has been an extremely tough and busy day for Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber exec Arthur Havlicek. He’s been working all afternoon on piecing together his response to Governor Whitmer’s announcement extending the restrictions on dine-in service at Michigan bars and restaurants through the end of January. It took him all afternoon because he’s been busy answering a non-stop barrage of phone calls from terror-stricken businesses worried about their ability to survive another two weeks of in-person shutdowns.

Havlicek and the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber were quick, nevertheless, to express disappointment after the governor’s announcement that her administration will be extending the ban on indoor dining until February 1st.

Arguing Michigan has hit its own metrics for a safe re-opening, Chamber President  & CEO Havlicek issued the following statement in response:

“We are disappointed, shocked, and saddened by this administration’s decision to once again extend the ban on dine-in for restaurants and bars until February 1st. This decision runs contrary to the state’s own data and further cements Michigan’s place as an outlier in its treatment of this important industry.

Your content continues below

Michigan has drastically improved in all three metrics the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) linked to a reopening back on November 18th.”

  • The COVID-19 cases per 1,000,000 residents declined from 776 to 146 on January 12th.
  • The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests declined from 13.8-percent to 9.1-percent on January 12th.
  • The state’s share of hospital beds with COVID-19 patients declined from 17.5-percent to 11.4-percent on January 12th.

Havlicek continues, “These businesses deserve better than to have the goal posts moved once again. The data shows Michiganders have followed through on their part. Today, Governor Whitmer should have followed through on hers. Forty-seven other states have found a path to allow this industry to open in accordance with CDC guidelines and we are hearing from restaurants every day who say they cannot afford for Michigan to remain an outlier anymore.

“Our Chamber has an obligation to advocate for these restaurants and the thousands of businesses throughout Southwest Michigan who have struggled as a result of this pandemic. As such, we will continue to call on the Governor and her administration to adopt a more measured approach that empowers businesses to open, equips them with the resources necessary to their keep employees and customers safe, and allows them to have a fighting chance at survival.”

In conclusion, Havlicek says, “In the meantime, we are urging consumers to continue supporting these restaurants any way they can over the next two weeks. Every dollar helps pull them back from the brink of financial ruin.”