Traverse Connect and Chamber Alliance Adjust to Confusion from Lansing

"There’s a lot of things we’re trying to figure out...the constant chaos that is COVID-19 right now.”

Two Traverse City organizations are trying to help businesses navigate the changes coming out of Lansing.

Masks Gt Pie 2Traverse Connect and the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance are hoping business say vigilant – so they can stay open. Both groups say they’ve adjusted their message in recent days.

Traverse Connect President/CEO Warren Call says, “The last 72 hours have been a lot like the last 72 days. There’s a lot of uncertainty.”

Traverse Connect says they’re working to understand the rules and regulations that are constantly changing. “There’s a lot of things we’re trying to figure out, a lot of information we’re trying to get out to the business community, and other employers, about just how to handle the ever-changing landscape, and kind of the constant chaos that is COVID-19 right now.”

Call says they’re fielding a lot of questions and concerns. “We get a lot of questions from small businesses. Their primary concern is ‘how do I maintain the right procedures to stay in compliance and to protect my employees and protect my customers?’”

Call adds that Traverse Connect is “in conversation constantly with our health department. Especially now with our state level guidelines being in flux, the guidelines from the local health department are ever-more important. And we are a partner with them to make sure their protocol and procedures and recommendations get out to the business community and the wider community.”

Call says the role of Traverse Connect is to bridge the gap and help with the flow of information. “We still have a central role to act as that designated liaison between the public sector and the private sector.  We continue to urge the legislature and the administration to work together on safeguards that will help all of Michigan avoid the spread of COVID-19.”

Traverse Connect is not alone. The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance represents 16 chamber organizations and 7,000 member businesses throughout the region.  Kirstie Sieloff is the Director of Government Relations for the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance and Traverse Connect. She acknowledges there are daily – sometimes hourly- updates from Lansing. “Obviously we’re dealing with a very fluid situation right now.” Mackinaw Brewing

Just days before Friday’s State Supreme Court ruling the Chamber Alliance had sent a letter to the Governor, asking for modifications to the rules for bars and restaurants. Now in the days since, they’re making a change to that request, but still hoping to work with those in Lansing

Sieloff says, “Last week we were advocating for higher capacity limits for our bars, restaurants, and meeting and banquet centers. We believe that businesses in northern Michigan have proven they are able and ready to accommodate more patrons in their establishments.” She continues, “We are now advocating that our business community be able to socially distance their customers in their establishments with an appropriate distance of six feet, the wearing of masks. Continuing with those health and safety guidelines in place.”

Mask Gt PieThat also means the Alliance is hoping to do away with capacity restrictions entirely – and base any limits off of a business’ ability to accommodate the guidelines for six feet of social distancing. But they’re also encouraging businesses and customers to continue with wearing masks – if nothing else, to “Stay Safe to Stay Open”.  For businesses that want to stay open, sticking with what they’ve been doing may be the best approach. “We think our businesses are able to socially distance customers and we should just base it off of six feet social distancing and the wearing of masks and safety protocol we’ve been accustomed to for the last months.  We’re encouraging our businesses to continue following safety protocols that we’ve had implemented for the past several months. And follow this new Department of Health and Human Services order and make sure they are keeping employees and customers safe so that we can keep our doors open and keep our neighbors and friends employed.”

Warren Call agrees. “As we transition through this uncertainty at the state level with guidelines, we just urge all businesses to continue doing what they have been doing, which is following the procedures they’ve put in place to keep everyone safe.”

Categories: Coronavirus, Coronavirus Support