A Michigan restaurant has opened for indoor dining in violation of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest lockdown order to save the business from failure.
Mitch Spangler opened up his eatery, Spangler’s Family Restaurant, in southern Michigan on Nov. 28 despite Whitmer ordering a new three-week shutdown of indoor dining to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Spangler emphasized that he is not seeking a fight with the government, but only trying to save his business from bankruptcy, according to MLive.com.
“It’s not a statement that I’m principally defying the governor,” Spangler said. “I disagree with the orders, but my motivation is out of survival for my family and employees.”
“If it wasn’t a choice of being in business or going out of business – if there was help, then, yeah, I would [stay closed],” he added. “It’s not an issue of bucking the system. It’s simply a business decision.”
Spangler said he managed to stay afloat early after the initial shutdown of restaurants in March because of federal and state assistance. Revenue at his business plummeted to 20% of its normal intake amid the lockdown, then fell to 15% after restaurants in Indiana and Ohio were allowed to open, pulling some of his customers.
Spangler said that people should be allowed to judge for themselves whether to risk contracting COVID-19 at a restaurant. Since opening, his restaurant has received support from Michiganders who have traveled hours to patronize his business.
“My belief is the people who need to protect themselves should not come to a restaurant, and the people who feel comfortable in precautions and exercising their right to do what they feel they need to do, should,” Spangler added. “It’s a 50-50 way, I need to survive and I feel that if people take care of themselves, and the ones that don’t need to be here shouldn’t be here. It’s a wash.”
“If you believe that you’re going to get COVID because you’re out and about, you probably shouldn’t be out and about,” he added.
The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is leading a federal lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for placing a three-week “pause” on indoor dining. The association asserts that the ban is unconstitutional.
“We don’t argue with the fact there’s a time and place for emergency orders, such as we saw in March, April, May, even June,” attorney Kelli Mulder argued in federal court on Monday. “But we’re in a different position now. By now, states should have figured out how to better protect constitutional rights.”
Whitmer has put restrictions on businesses and individuals back in place despite the state Supreme Court striking down her emergency powers in an Oct. 2 ruling.
“We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the court explained. “Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government – including its plenary police powers – and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely. As a consequence, the EPGA cannot continue to provide a basis for the Governor to exercise emergency powers.”
Whitmer replaced many of her health regulations after the ruling, citing precedent of authority granted to the governor during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.