Rules for thee but not for me. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has once again been caught violating her own COVID-19 rules in Michigan. Whitmer was spotted seated in a restaurant at a long table with lots of friends. The governor is a serial violator of her own rules and this is the latest example.
A quick headcount from a photo provided by Breitbart shows a total of 13 at the table, including Gretchen Whitmer. The article labels the establishment as a dive bar in a college town – Landshark Bar and Grill, near Michigan State University in East Lansing. Governor Whitmer calls it a restaurant. Call it what you want to call it, the number of people socializing together violated the restaurant capacity order issued by Whitmer on May 15. Current Michigan Department of Health and Human Services pandemic orders prohibit groups larger than six to gather together at indoor restaurants.
b. Gatherings are prohibited at food service establishments, whether indoor or outdoor, unless:
Consumption of food or beverages is permitted only in a designated dining area where patrons are seated, groups of patrons are separated by at least 6 feet, no more than 6 patrons are seated together (at a table, booth, or group of fixed seats), and groups of patrons do not intermingle.
The group pushed tables together and ordered the establishment’s signature drink – bright blue “shark bowl” cocktails – and all of them were maskless. A bouncer was seen wearing a face mask. Whitmer’s chief operating officer, Tricia Foster, was also among those present with the governor. One of the people in the group posted a montage of photos on social media which was quickly deleted but not before people recognized Whitmer and Foster. After she was caught and the backlash began, Whitmer issued an apology.
“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been committed to following public health protocols,” said Whitmer. “Yesterday, I went with friends to a local restaurant. As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t stop to think about it. In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize.”
Under normal circumstances, that apology would be sufficient. She owned up to her lapse in judgment and apologized. But, in this pandemic, we are not under normal circumstances and this is not Governor Whitmer’s first personal violation of Michigan’s pandemic orders. Whitmer has developed a reputation for presiding over mitigation measures for the pandemic in Michigan with an iron fist. Her orders have been particularly harsh for businesses and residents in Michigan trying to survive the economic crash brought on by lockdowns. She only gets to play the “I am human” card once. After that, her actions are clearly a middle finger to her constituents. Queen Gretchen doesn’t live by her own rules. Rules are for the little people who pay her salary and put her into a position of power in the first place.
Whitmer’s many violations of the pandemic rules include traveling to Florida to visit her father, she marched in Black Lives Matter protests without socially distancing and strongarmed nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients, and Michigan experienced one of the last waves of the re-emergence of the coronavirus under her incompetent leadership. The CDC director had to publicly tell her to lockdown the state as she began to ease the restrictions.
Those around Governor Whitmer also feel entitled to make their own rules. Her husband found himself in hot water last year for opening up the family’s summer home on a lake and launching their boat ahead of Memorial Day weekend, at a time when Whitmer told Michiganders to remain in their primary residences. Tricia Foster took a vacation trip to Florida over Spring Break in April.
COVID-19 cases are declining in Michigan. The governor has announced most of the pandemic restrictions will end on July 1. Outdoor event restrictions will end on June 1. Michigan’s vaccination rate as of Monday is at 40%.
The governor made the announcements from home plate at Dow Diamond in Midland, where she revealed that outdoor capacity limits disappear June 1. The policy comes amid optimism that the state’s fight against the coronavirus could be nearing itsendand means the Detroit Tigers will be able to host larger crowds at their home games this summer instead of the current limit of 8,200 fans.
In addition to lifting outdoor limits, Whitmer said indoor capacity controls also will rise to 50% for the month of June — affecting such events as weddings, funerals and graduation parties. She later added that the 11 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars also would end starting next month.
An indoor mask mandate for unvaccinated people will remain in place through June under the new order, which is expected to be updated Monday. The state will lift the broad mask and gathering orders on July 1, she said.
We have never all been in this pandemic together, despite the constant claims of politicians otherwise. Governor Whitmer has pushed the envelope more than most politicians, though. She is up for re-election in 2022 and the campaign ads write themselves at this point. She had enough fodder against her over her authoritarian tendencies in governing and the list of her own violations continues to grow. Who thinks this will be the last time she is caught flaunting her position?
She isn’t ready to commit to a full lifting of all restrictions – she leaves open the option of keeping some restrictions in place for the most vulnerable. She isn’t ready to abdicate her throne quite yet, apparently, when it comes to issuing orders to the little people. It will be interesting to see who decides to run against her in 2022. On the Republican side, there is talk that RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel has her eye on running.