COLUMN: Governor’s latest stay-home order a step in the wrong direction

Categories: News,Sheppard News

Last week, the governor double-downed on her order for all residents to stay home by enacting further restrictions. By doing so, she has further placed our state’s economy in peril and created confusion and frustration for most Michiganians.

In the days leading up to Thursday’s announcement of the extended COVID-19 stay-at-home order, I joined my colleagues in the Legislature in discussions with Gov. Whitmer asking her to consider adopting the latest guidelines issued by the federal government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which were revised to provide clarity and address critical seasonal jobs that can be done safely outdoors.

Unfortunately, not only did the governor ignore our request, she decided to move us in the opposite direction – placing more restrictions on people and job providers throughout Michigan. The governor ordered stores to stop selling what she considers non-essential items and block off those areas so customers cannot access them. She also ordered residents not to travel between two residences they own in the state. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

The governor relied on the first version of the CISA guidelines to define essential workers when she issued her original stay-at-home order. Since then, the guidelines have been updated with additional occupations that are deemed critical. Adopting these changes would allow people such as construction workers, landscapers, chiropractors and optometrists to work if they follow safe practices.

We’re not talking about jobs that would compromise public health. This is about making common-sense adjustments that can help get our economy headed back in the right direction.  Business owners help drive our state’s economy and their success depends on adapting to constant changes. Adapting to the threat of COVID-19 is no different – in fact, we’ve seen many businesses, such as restaurants and grocery stores, make changes to keep their employees and their customers safe. The governor should allow other business owners the flexibility to come up with safe practices that fit their operations, rather than adhere to a “one-size-fits-all” approach by shutting them down.

It simply makes no sense to prevent a small family lawn care business from mowing lawns. It’s wrong to halt construction work on family homes when it is allowed to continue on state projects. These businesses already work in a “social distancing” manner.

We need to stop debating “essential” vs. “non-essential” jobs; when it comes down to it, every job is essential to the worker who relies on the paycheck it provides.

Moving forward, we need to stop having a vague and confusing debate about what jobs are essential and start shifting our focus to safety. Michigan should follow the lead of other states and adopt the revised CISA guidelines because allowing people who can safely work to do so is the first step we must take to get our economy back on track.

It’s going to take much longer to fix our economy than it took for the governor to unilaterally shut everything down. Gov. Whitmer has a team of legislators who are ready and willing to work with her and develop a plan that will allow people to safely return to normal. I urge her to take advantage of it.