WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Lisa McClain (R-MI) penned an op-ed in the Macomb Daily on the one-year anniversary of the COVID lockdowns beginning in Michigan. Rep. McClain is urging Governor Gretchen Whitmer to lift restrictions on Michigan’s businesses so the state’s economy can recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here or read below for the full op-ed.

Our freedoms are in jeopardy. Today marks one year since Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s draconian shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic began, locking down our state and economy for the first time in modern history.

First, our schools closed, followed by restaurants, gyms and casinos. Then, salons and barbershops. Within eight days, our entire state was under a stay-at-home order. Not only could you not leave your house, but you could be fined for doing so. We were told it would last for two weeks to “slow the spread.” A year later, we are still not free to live our lives without government restrictions.

 At the beginning of the pandemic, we did not know much about the disease or the stress it could put on our healthcare system. A year later, there are three vaccines being administered for fighting the virus and preventing the most serious COVID cases. As Michigan’s COVID cases drastically decline day after day, and more than 2.7 million Michiganders are vaccinated with at least one dose, it is past time we lift the oppressive restrictions that are destroying our state’s economy.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe it’s been an entire year since our businesses were able to operate freely, without strict government guidelines. If businesses are fortunate enough to be allowed to operate, they have to follow strict limitations on how many customers can patronize them at a time. These capacity restrictions are devastating to many businesses, especially restaurants, which operate on slim margins. Many businesses that prospered before the pandemic are struggling to keep their doors open or have already closed their doors forever.

Shutting down our economy has caused Michigan to have the 7th highest unemployment rate in the entire nation. The unemployment numbers in Michigan are staggering – with more than 8% of Michiganders out of work. Florida, which lifted its COVID restrictions early, has a prosperous economy, with an unemployment rate of 5.1%. South Dakota, which never imposed stay-at-home orders has the lowest unemployment rate in the entire country at 3.3%. The data doesn’t back up the claims that the shutdowns prevented deaths. Michigan’s per capita death rate was higher than Florida, even though Florida has an aging population that is most vulnerable to COVID. If states that are open are having less deaths per capita than Michigan, why aren’t we lifting restrictions? It’s clear states with less restrictions are thriving, while those with shutdowns are perishing.

It’s time for Governor Whitmer to reach out to Florida Gov. Ron Desantis or South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. These leaders could help provide advice on how to safely reopen our economy and get people back to work.

By lifting restrictions, we can put the power back into the hands of the people. I believe in personal responsibility and allowing people to make their own decisions. Those who would like to go to a restaurant and are comfortable dining indoors should be able to without strict limitations. Those who are not comfortable going out to eat can continue staying home and order in. It’s time we put the freedom back in the hands of the people and let our capitalist society prosper.

If we do not allow our businesses to operate to their full capacity, it will be impossible for many of our state’s small businesses to stay open. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, it is past time we get back to having the liberty to live our lives. If we keep letting the government dictate capacities and curfews at our businesses, what oppressive, Orwellian order will they impose next? This could be the end of our freedom as we know it.