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Rep. Hoitenga: Stay-at-home order walks fine line between public safety, needs of small businesses
RELEASE|March 23, 2020

State Rep. Michele Hoitenga, of Manton, today said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home executive order in response to rising coronavirus cases respects public health, but at the expense of small business.

The order will go into effect Tuesday, March 24 at 12:01 a.m. and continue through April 13. It allows for a small segment of essential business and activity to continue.

“I am eager to re-visit this balance when the directive is set to expire, because I do feel we are strangling our job providers by going to tighter and tighter guidelines,” Hoitenga said. “It is imperative to protect people. I’m not at all downplaying that. But small businesses are hurting. They’ve closed their doors. They’ve cut staff. They need to pay the bills. I don’t want to see that hurt linger because it will utterly decimate something that is vitally important to our state economy.”

Under the order, entities such as banks, grocery stores and gas stations can remain open. Restaurants will also be allowed to remain open, but must only provide take-out food services. Portions of the workforce deemed critical include sectors such as health care, public safety, food and agriculture, public works and energy services.

Hoitenga underscored assistance programs that are becoming available for impacted small businesses within a rapidly evolving situation. The state will provide a total of $20 million in both grants and loans to small businesses affected by coronavirus stoppages starting on or around April 1 through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program.

At the federal level, the Small Business Association is also offering enhanced disaster assistance, providing low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small businesses and nonprofits which have experienced a disruption.

“I supported a plan last week that devotes $150 million in emergency funding to testing efforts and expanding capacity for hospitals. Our state’s health is critical during this time,” Hoitenga said. “But I’m also looking to make sure our small businesses are protected. When this storm has passed, people will need jobs to go back to. We need to do a better job of caring for our employers like we do our unemployed.”

Gov. Whitmer announced Monday morning the number of positive coronavirus cases in Michigan had surpassed 1,300. Over 30 counties across the state had reported cases as of Sunday afternoon.

Reliable information about COVID-19 can be found at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. Residents with health-related questions can also call Michigan’s coronavirus hotline at 1-888-535-6136 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or email COVID19@michigan.gov.

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