Lauwers, Bad Axe restaurant owner blast governor’s latest extension

‘The governor’s disregard for those suffering is heartless and heartbreaking’

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dan Lauwers on Wednesday visited a Bad Axe restaurant hit hard by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extension of the state ban on in-person dining and condemned the governor’s actions devastating the restaurant industry.

“The governor has repeatedly asserted she is making her decisions based on science, but she has failed to back up her claims — and the data does not indicate that restaurants are prominent sources of virus spread,” said Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “Her callous assertions ring hollow, especially in the ears of the millions of job providers and workers who are suffering because of her inept policies.”

Lauwers held a press conference at the Peppermill Restaurant in Bad Axe. He was joined by the restaurant’s owner, Thomas McCollum, who shared the account of how the governor’s shutdowns have nearly destroyed his business and overwhelmed his employees.

“The Peppermill Restaurant is closed until indoor dining reopens,” McCollum said. “In the spring we tried carryout and only did $200 to $300 a day, which will not pay for one waitress and one cook for the day — not to mention food costs and all the other expenses.

“So this last shutdown we just closed to lose less money. My employees and I want to come back to work; they ask me about this often.

“The restaurant has no money to pay the ongoing bills, so we need to open soon. If we can’t open soon there is a good chance that the restaurant I have owned for 26 years will be done.

“It will be sad to go out of business due to no fault of my own. Let’s open to save thousands of jobs and businesses.”

Lauwers noted that the three key metrics the state is using to guide COVID-19 reopening decisions have improved since the epidemic order issued in November: As of Jan. 16, the number of confirmed daily COVID-19 cases per million has been cut by 92%, the daily positive test percentage is down by more than 57%, and hospitalizations have dropped by 42%.

The shutdown of indoor dining was set to expire on Jan. 16, but on Jan. 13, the governor and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced they are extending the state’s ban on in-person dining at restaurants through Feb. 1.

“In December, I called on the governor or DHHS Director Robert Gordon to provide Michiganders with objective standards and/or COVID-19 case rates for restaurant owners to be able to take action and make plans in order to reopen,” Lauwers said. “They completely ignored this simple request.

“The governor’s disregard for those suffering, such as Thomas McCollum and his employees, is heartless and heartbreaking. I hope somehow the governor would realize her mistake, reverse course, and open restaurants today.”

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