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Resolution supports restautant, bar owners

ESCANABA — This week Delta County took a stand against the continued closures of bars and restaurants, but the largely symbolic show of support for local businesses was cast against the backdrop of extended bans on indoor dining.

Resolution #21-01 “Support of Bar, Tavern and Restaurant Owners,” was initially proposed at the board of commissioners’ reorganizational meeting on Jan. 5 by Delta County Commissioner David Moyle, who represents Escanaba’s first and third precincts. However, concerns over the wording of the resolution prompted the commissioners to set a Jan. 8 committee of the whole meeting to discuss the measure. As formal action cannot be legally taken during committee of the whole meetings, a special meeting was set for Monday, Jan. 11 to take action on the document.

At the meeting Monday, the commissioners unanimously approved a slightly-modified version of the resolution. Chief among the changes made to the original document was the addition of a closing paragraph, stating “… this resolution does not have the power of Michigan Compiled Law and it cannot be used to avert MLCC or MDPH.” The statement serves as a formal warning restaurants, bars and taverns are still subject to the rules of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and the Michigan Department of Public Health, a former name for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“This is basically the commissioners saying, … ‘we hear you, we see you, and we’re going to try to work with our legislature to get you the help that you need,'” Delta County Administrator Emily DeSalvo told the Daily Press, noting the resolution was fundamentally different from a “manifesto” approved by Baraga County the same day.

The manifesto — which is called as much in the document’s title — is signed by Baraga County’s sheriff, county commissioners, county clerk and county treasurer and explicitly states the county will not be enforcing orders handed down by the state.

“Accordingly, we hereby put the State of Michigan on NOTICE that we have no intention of participating in the unconstitutional destruction of our citizen’s economic security and Liberty. We further declare our intention to take no action whatsoever in furtherance of this terribly misguided agenda,” the document reads in part.

The manifesto also references the American Revolution and King George III of England, says the state’s shutdown orders “treat human beings like herd animals,” and says Lansing is blaming the people of Michigan and not “the scientific community’s admitted lack of data and understanding of COVID 19.”

Delta County’s resolution is much softer in its language, though it does claim the state’s orders amounts to harassment.

“(The) Delta County Board of Commissioners understands that universally educated people, the citizens and taxpayers of Delta County are intelligent and informed individuals and do not need Lansing to bully or harass them into following an unconstitutional directive,” reads one paragraph of the resolution.

The resolution declares the commission will “stand in unison with the tax paying business owners of Delta County Michigan” and not support endeavors that single out, harm, or discriminate against any business owner that opens their establishment with “responsible PPE and social distancing.”

“It was intended to be sent to, like, Director (Robert) Gordon, who is the director of Health and Human Services for the state of Michigan and to the governor to tell them ‘We want to sit down at the table. We want to talk to you. Our businesses are struggling. We don’t want them to shutdown locally. We’re just asking for you to pay attention to us so you can hear what we have to say,'” said DeSalvo.

So far, the chances look bleak for restaurants and taverns to be able to reopen their dining rooms and bars anytime in January. On Wednesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave a press conference announcing the ban on indoor dining has been extended until at least Feb. 1. The state is expected to release details next week on when and how reopenings can occur.

Restaurants and bars were initially closed to indoor dining on Nov. 18.

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