Small business owners buck Gretchen Whitmer’s shutdown: ‘We don’t have any other option’
LAWTON, Okla. – For Amy Heikkinen, serving customers in her coffee shop is as much a fight for survival as an act of civil disobedience against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Ms. Heikkinen‘s Cafe Rosetta in Calumet remains open in violation of a Nov. 25 cease-and-desist order from the health department for breaking the governor’s COVID-19 ban on indoor dining. By staying open, she’s racking up fines at a rate of $1,000 per day.
“If we don’t [stay open], we aren’t going to survive,” she said. “We don’t have any other option.”
The struggle of this tiny coffee shop on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula mirrors the plight of restaurants and bars from New York to California where a coronavirus surge spurred governors and mayors to shut down businesses again, rippling more pain across the economy.
Since the pandemic began, more than 110,000 or 17% of America’s restaurants have closed permanently or long term, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Congress made small-business help a major plank of emergency COVID relief bills, making more than $700 billion available in federal loans, but that money only went so far.