Was Governor Whitmer’s Decision To Shut Down Businesses Fair?


Courtesy of Pexel

Following the Thanksgiving Holiday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer closed down many small businesses, especially restricting restaurants from hosting indoor dining. This decision was met with mixed reactions, as while slowing the spread of coronavirus, many business owners and employees couldn’t work. Although the decision was done to combat coronavirus, the choice to close business was unfair because many people are having trouble keeping a liveable wage and it’s now difficult to find a job. 

Many people are living paycheck by paycheck. The closure of people’s workplaces or restrictions in supplying their customers can impact their lives heavily. And while there are talks from Congress about bringing the unemployment benefits back up, for the last 2-3 months they have not been bringing in enough money to live off of for much longer. For people who have families, closed or slow business could mean a lot. According to Michigan’s department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, the current maximum weekly benefit is $362, while the minimum is only $81. This is a lot lower than earlier in the year, when the average person was making more than $750 weekly. The fact that unemployment benefits went down while business constraints remain strict, shows that recent business shutdowns are not fair because people who live with lower incomes are not able to provide for themselves or their families. 

Another problem with businesses shutting down is the effect it has on finding work. This is a big issue for high schoolers, as 14-17 is the age many people start looking for their first jobs. The type of work young jobseekers are looking for is mainly dependent on serving customers (waiter, cashier, janitor, etc.). These jobs are currently hard to find since there are no customers to serve, giving businesses no need to hire. This is especially true for restaurant  jobs, where indoor dining is no longer an option for Dearborn restaurants. With the fact that jobs are harder to find, along with the low unemployment benefits, there are not many ways for teenagers to make money, therefore proving business shutdowns are not fair. 

The argument in favor of business shutdowns is that it helps restrict exposure to COVID-19. This made sense during the Thanksgiving weekend, as there were worries people wouldn’t social distance. Unfortunately, the shutdowns have remained since then. The rules did not have to last this long. According to The New York Times, COVID-19 exposure in the state of Michigan skyrocketed to 16,000 daily cases during the Thanksgiving weekend, being double what it was the week before. Meanwhile the weekend after, it went back down to 7,000 daily cases, and they have been going down since. Even Christmas only had a little increase. The fact that the cases have been going down shows that there is no need to continue shutdowns, as less people would be together at one time.