News Story

Where’s The Data On Whitmer’s Perplexing Orders?

Public in the dark on why pet groomers can open but not barbers, and much more

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has repeatedly claimed that her decisions on lockdown orders during the COVID-19 pandemic are based on data.

But whatever data exists to inform the decision to keep hair salons and barbers locked down while allowing pet groomers to open June 4, it has not been revealed to or shared with the public.

The governor’s orders and statements have also generated confusion. For example, at a May 21 press conference, Whitmer said, “And also all of you pet owners, the return of veterinarian services. If your dogs are shaggy like my little boy, Kevin, I know that that’s welcome news to some of you.”

That led one TV station to report that pet groomers would be permitted to reopen eight days after a new executive order, issued by the governor on the same day as her press conference.

“The order allows these procedures and appointments to begin Friday, May 29. This includes pet grooming appointments as well, something Gov. Whitmer said she was looking forward to for her dog Kevin,” WJBK reported.

But on May 22, WTVG reported that pet groomers were unsure if they could reopen, when it ran a story with the title, “Dog groomers uncertain if they are allowed to reopen.”

The governor’s office finally addressed the uncertainty on June 1 under a Frequently Asked Questions section of a state web page that lists executive orders. Pet groomers are allowed to open June 4, or 11 days after Whitmer talked about her own dog being shaggy.

“Q. Are pet-groomers permitted to resume operations?

A: Yes. Pet-groomers will be allowed to resume operations on June 4, subject to workplace standards described in Executive Order 2020-97 or any order that may follow from it.”

The lack of clarity in the executive orders and Whitmer’s insistence that they are based on data raise more questions. Such as, where is the data showing that the governor should permit swimming pools to reopen while keeping barbers locked down?

The May 21 press conference provided little insight as to what data the governor has in mind.

“The fact that we’ve gone from a moment where we’ve said everyone needs to stay home, except for these essential things to know, it’s okay to reengage except for a few of these things that still are too risky,” Whitmer said in a June 1 press conference. “That’s our judgment, my hope is that we turn that dial in two weeks and take that next step, two to three weeks is what we think we need to see in terms of data.”

Whitmer said her preference is for hair salons and barbers to be open by the July 4 weekend.

“But we may be taking that step. And I’d like to do it before Independence Day weekend, but we got to follow the data,” Whitmer said.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.