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GR Chamber: Governor Whitmer's announcement a good step, but falls short



After Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement Tuesday that restaurants could operate at 50 percent, The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce says the news may be welcome, but falls short of what business owners truly need. Whitmer’s announcement Tuesday came one day after the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Governor’s office, arguing that positivity rates had been trending in the right directions and it was time to begin gradually reopening Michigan restaurants. And 24 hours later, she did.

“Going to 50 percent is definitely a positive step in the right direction,” Johnston said. (But) we would still like to see benchmarks laid out how to we get to 100% open, because that is going to provide the real certainty, consistency and transparency that our business need.”

That’s Andy Johnston, the Vice President of Government Affairs for the Grand Rapids Chamber. He says in speaking with business owners in the city, many of them share the same frustration: that restaurants in   surrounding states like Ohio and Indiana get to operate their establishments at full capacity, while data shows it has not increased the overall positivity rate. Meanwhile in Michigan, there isn’t a formal plan of when that will happen here.

“Michigan is still out of step with our regional partners, and frankly states across the country,” Johnston said. “But we also need to know that there is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Johnston said he wants to make it clear however, that the Chamber fully supports restaurants operating safely, having staff and patrons wear masks and socially distance as best as possible.