A business owner in Michigan is urging fellow businesses in The Wolverine State to unlock the doors and turn on the lights this week regardless of what Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says about the state’s COVID-19 lockdown.
Erik Kiilunen, who owns two businesses impacted by the economy-crushing shutdown, is calling on others to defy the governor’s stay-at-home order that is set to expire May 28.
Gov. Whitmer (pictured above), a first-term Democrat, angered the public weeks ago for her oddball lockdown orders that forced businesses to rope off paint aisles and garden seeds. More recently, the governor suggested the lockdown would continue because of massive protests that filled Lansing, and she ignored the GOP-led legislature that appears to have the legal authority to grant or deny Whitmer’s extension to the stay-at-home orders.
"I don't care what political persuasion you’re from. It doesn’t matter,” he tells OneNewsNow. “This isn't about that. Every small-town business is hurting."
According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan has experienced "unprecedented" unemployment claims that have climbed to 1.71 million since mid-March.
Michigan news website Mlive.com reports that Kiilunen owns a roofing/insulation business and a business selling composite rebar. He told the news outlet that one of his businesses has lost more than $600,000 in business when the state ordered companies, offices, and shops shuttered.
Kiilunen also lives in Keweenaw County, home to approximately 2,100 residents, which has zero confirmed cases of COVID-19, the news story said.
A statement from Gov. Whitmer’s office said Michiganders are making “sacrifices” during an “unprecedented and stressful time” but admitted, too, that four of the state’s 83 counties have yet to confirm a case of the virus. Yet those counties, such as Keweenaw, fall under the same order.
Kiilunen, meanwhile, says he knows the owner of a resort near his home who is a mother of six children with no income coming in. Most businesses, he says, can last no more than two months before they’re finished for good.
“You have the right to tell her she ain't gonna open her business?” he asks rhetorically.
A crowdfunding campaign raised more than $20,000 that is allowing Kiilunen to plaster billboards across the state with the message, "All business is essential."
He has also declared Thursday, May 21 "Take Yourself to Work Day."