Macomb County bar owner wants Gov. Whitmer to go unpaid until restrictions are lifted

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(WWJ) A Macomb County business owner is the latest to fight back against the state's ban on indoor dining, asking the governor and other state officials to forgo their salaries until bars and restaurants are allowed to re-open.

Victor Trpcevski -- who owns the Art & Jakes Sports Bar chain in Shelby Twp., Sterling Heights and Washington Twp. -- sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, health department Dir. Robert Gordon and Attorney General Dana Nessel about the indoor dining shutdown he says is destroying the industry.

"Let's take their pay away, let's put them on these elements -- what would they do next?" asked Trpcevski, who said wants state officials to know the pain that restaurant owners and employees are feeling due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Trpcevski said that while he has no intention of disobeying the latest 12-day ban, imposed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, he is promising a legal challenge in U.S. District Court.

Trpcevski wants Whitmer to share what proof she has that COVID-19 is spreading in restaurants.

"Why all of a sudden it's just restaurants where we're number six on the list, where manufacturing is number two, but they're allowed to stay open. Offices are number three, but they're allowed to stay open," he told WWJ's Jon Hewett.

"There's no evidence of where she got this data from that she's using against the restaurant industry," Trpcevski added. "And to not even put us on a list on slowly engaging after 12 days on when we may open... When the industry is fighting with the unknown."

Answering the "Why restaurant? question in the past, Whitmer and state health officials have pointed out that it's not possible to eat or drink while wearing a mask.

In announcing an extension of tighter business restrictions, which has been set to expire Tuesday, Whitmer cited the struggles of packed hospitals in the state. She said too many people traveled and gathered for Thanksgiving, and it would be another couple of weeks yet before Michigan sees cases spike as experts suspect they will.

While Whitmer has said she knows the shutdowns are hard on business owners and employees, she called on the federal government to step in with stimulus funds to help.

While the indoor dining ban is set to expire on Dec. 20, Whitmer said reopenings will have to happen slowly.