Osceola County sheriff will not be investigating open businesses
Will not strictly enforce new executive orders
REED CITY — Although many businesses will be allowed to reopen next week under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's latest executive orders, some locally-owned establishments still are deemed unsafe to operate.
However, Osceola County Sheriff Ed Williams said his department will not be strictly enforcing these orders.
"I feel business owners should be allowed to open and use precautions necessary to keep themselves, employees and customers as safe as possible while still operating," Williams said. "...We are not going to investigate businesses that are opening."
On Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted the nearly 10-week coronavirus stay-at-home order, allowing restaurants to reopen to dine-in customers, retailers to open to customers without appointments and people to gather in groups of up to 100 outside while maintaining social distancing.
However, businesses such as gyms, hair salons, movie theaters and amusement parks must remain closed under the new executive orders.
Williams said although he understands the need for people to be safe, business owners have a right to reopen when they see fit.
"I don't feel that anyone should be allowed to put someone out of business," he said.
Williams added that for many business owners, the past several weeks have had a significant financial impact, and if they do not open soon, it could mean the end of their business entirely.
"This is America, and at some level, we should be free. For these small businesses, this could catastrophically affect their way of life," he said.
Williams said instead of focusing on businesses reopening, the sheriff's office needs to be committed to protecting the community.
"There's other more important tasks we need to be focused on. We still need to investigate crime," he said. "Those things need to come first."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.