Gov. Whitmer provides COVID-19 update, extends unemployment benefits and help for businesses

Gretchen Whitmer
Posted at 8:55 AM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 12:45:22-05

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed on Tuesday the bipartisan relief bill passed by the Michigan legislature after she urged them to provide support for Michigan families, frontline workers and small businesses.

Whitmer says the bill includes $55 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available to small businesses across the state that need support this winter.

The relief bill also includes $3.5 million for grants of up to $40,000 each for live music and entertainment venues, and includes $45 million in direct payments to workers who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the virus.

“I proposed this stimulus plan to the legislature in November because I know how much our families, frontline workers, and small businesses need relief. This bipartisan bill will provide families and businesses the support they need to stay afloat as we continue working to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and eliminate COVID-19 once and for all,” Whitmer said. “There is still more work to do to eliminate this virus and grow our economy. All Michiganders have a personal responsibility to do their part and mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can easily spread from person to person. We will beat this virus together.

Business leaders responded to the developments as they continue to push forward.

“After zooming a few weeks ago with Governor Whitmer, we are thrilled that she heard our cry for help,” said Chef Jenna Arcidiacono, owner of Amore Trattoria in Comstock Park. “Many restaurants will not survive without financial support. This gives us hope after the devastating year we have endured."

“We are grateful that Governor Whitmer has signed a bill that provides some much needed support for entertainment venues and stages like ours,” said Scott Hammontree, President of the Michigan Independent Venue and Promoter Association. “Our number one priority is keeping our staff, patrons, and their families safe, and we encourage everyone in communities across Michigan to do your part to end this virus once and for all.”

The governor also signed bipartisan Senate Bill 604 extending unemployment benefits for Michiganders who have lost work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic from 20 to 26 weeks until the end of March 2021, according to a release sent out by the governor's office.

No Michigander should have to worry about how to put food on the table or pay their bills, especially during a global pandemic,” said Whitmer. “These bipartisan bills are an important step in providing immediate relief for working families, but there is more work to do. I urge the legislature to take further action to make this permanent. 40 states, including all of our neighbors, automatically provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment relief. Michiganders deserve better than a short-term extension that expires in March. It’s time to work together on a bipartisan, long-term solution for working families.”