06-25-2020 Governor Whitmer COVID-19 mandates defeated in court; openings and closings on tap; Berr

VEGGIE VAN… spent the afternoon on Tuesday, June 23 at the Coloma Medical Center on Paw Paw Avenue. The drive-through style distribution gave away some 300 bags full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Spectrum Health and YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids partnered with Spectrum Health Lakeland and the YMCA of Southwest Michigan to bring fresh produce to the residents in the Tri-City Area. (TCR photo by Amy Loshbough)

Governor Whitmer COVID-19 mandates defeated in court; openings and closings on tap

By Jon Bisnett First it was the elderly barber from Owosso, now the gym/fitness centers of the state have handed Governor Gretchen Whitmer her second defeat in the high court of Michigan.

Whitmer had announced a tentative reopening date for gyms, movie theaters and bowling alleys of July 4 in a press release last week, provided the curve continues its current downward trend. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney found good reason in overturning Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order closing down state fitness facilities. In his opinion, Maloney stated, “Defendants offer nothing in support of the restriction, so it appears to have no ‘real or substantial’ basis to protecting the public health. Nor can the court identify any set of facts on which the gym restriction has a rational relation to public health, in light of the opening of similar venues and activities like swimming pools, restaurants and bars, and ‘personal touch’ services like salons. Therefore, plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of at least some of their claims.” As a result of his ruling, all gyms with indoor facilities in Michigan have been told they may now reopen for business at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, June 25. Governor Whitmer has since appealed the decision quipping, “With this ruling, the court is playing a dangerous role it should not play: second-guessing and upending the data-informed decisions that have saved thousands of lives in Michigan.” Whitmer has continually claimed to base all her orders on the “best data and science” without sharing any of the data or benchmarks drawing ongoing criticism especially from small business.

Local venues The Board of Directors of the Berrien County Youth Fair has decided to postpone the 75th Anniversary Edition of the Berrien County Youth Fair to August 16-21, 2021. A youth showcase and exhibition is planned for August 15-23. The “Berrien County Showcase – Where Youth are Essential” will allow the Fair to showcase the exhibits of the county’s youth in a totally different format in compliance with standing executive orders. The Cass County Fair still intends to run the first week of August according to their most recent board meeting. Allegan County Fair is going forward at this point with their event scheduled for September 11-19. Paw Paw’s Wine and Harvest Festival canceled recently.

Eateries & entertainment Most local restaurants are back up and running with modified seating and hours. Attrition has already claimed a few and several more will most likely follow. Call or check social media pages as to hours and seating availability. Many are still offering curbside service without onsite dining. Many if not all independent concert promoters find themselves out of business and according to the National Independent Venue Association the places to enjoy live music were the first to close and will be the last to open. Ninety percent of members believe they may close permanently in just a few months without additional federal funding. That brings us to local venues like the Mendel Center, Silver Creek Event Center, Kalamazoo’s State Theatre and Miller Auditorium. Hopefully they will each find their own way to continue and the public is encouraged to support these venues. Cans & Bottle Returns For the first time in three months, stores are now accepting can and bottle returns. Most are imposing either a limited number of bottles, hours or both. Check with your local retailer first before you show up with a huge backlog of bottles. On the Border Don’t plan any fishing trip just yet as Canada and the U.S have agreed to extend their agreement to keep their border closed to non-essential travel to July 21 in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Expanded testing Testing for COVID-19 is becoming more readily available all over the state. Contact your local Health Department or your family physician for specific local resources. Facemasks are still recommended and mandated by many businesses. Handwashing and social distancing are the usual expectations at most retailers and offices. Remain patient. When in doubt, call first.

Berrien County extends local State of Emergency, re-opens facilities in phases; Spectrum revises visitation guidelines

By Annette Christie At the Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting held June 18, 2020, the Board authorized the Chair, Mac Elliott to extend the local state of emergency until Friday, July 10, 2020. This action continues to provide liability protection for non-county employees and volunteers that are assisting during this pandemic and it continues to provide that coordinated decisions are made. The Emergency Operations Center will continue to operate remotely to assist the Berrien County Health Department and Spectrum Health Lakeland during this time.

Berrien County facilities re-opening Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-21 in March which ordered residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible, which in