The states of South Carolina and Montana have both decided in recent days to put an end to their handouts of federal unemployment benefits as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, in an effort to encourage residents to return to the workforce, as per CNN.
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) said in his announcement that “incentives matter, and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good. We need to incentivize Montanans to return to the workforce.” Instead, Governor Gianforte announced that the state government will be providing $1,200 checks as bonuses to every citizen who returns to work, using the state’s share of the recent $1.9 trillion stimulus package to pay for it.
In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster (R-S.C.) announced on Thursday that the state would be ending their share of federal unemployment benefits, since “what was intended to be a short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement, incentivizing and paying workers to stay at home rather than encouraging them to return to the workplace.”
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Wednesday scrapping all COVID-19 restrictions throughout the state and an accompanying bill that limits localities’ ability to enforce emergency precautions.
“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do,” DeSantis said during a press conference Tuesday announcing the executive order. “I think folks are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, then you’re really saying you don’t believe in the vaccines.”
DeSantis signed SB 2006, which says that any emergency orders can last no longer than six weeks. It gives him the authority to overrule cities that adopt restrictions deemed too harsh or unnecessary, and gives city and county commissions the power to overrule mayors.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a reopening plan that ties lifting COVID-19 restrictions to Michigan’s vaccination rate.
The “MI Vacc to Normal” plan will use four vaccination-based milestones for Michiganders 16 years or older who have received a first COVID-19 vaccine to dictate reopening. The state aims to reach its goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders ages 16 years or older.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced on Wednesday that Georgia is lifting all COVID-19 restrictions.
“We know hard-working Georgians cannot endure another year like that last. That is why beginning tomorrow we are loosening the remaining restrictions on our economy here in Georgia,” Kemp said in a video statement Wednesday.
Starting from Thursday, Georgia businesses will no longer be required to enforce social distancing, the ban on gatherings will be eliminated and the ability for authorities to shut down businesses that violate restrictions will be taken away, according to The Hill.
A restaurant survey indicates 74% of respondents supported a required metric-driven plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions.
On Tuesday, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) released a statewide survey indicating public support to resume indoor dining and travel.
The survey also indicated wide support for hospitality workers receiving prioritized vaccination as well as for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to produce a metric-driven plan to retain control over COVID-19 restrictions.
A health care reform package the House passed Wednesday is creating a rift between the state’s business groups and the GOP.
Michigan business leaders formed a new Michigan Affordable Healthcare Coalition that aims to reduce health care costs without raising costs on small businesses.
In a Thursday afternoon press conference, business leaders voiced opposition to House bills 4346 and 4354, claiming they would raise health insurance premiums that are already a heavy burden for many businesses.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the Biden Administration’s prediction that coronavirus vaccines can lead to relative normalcy by July Fourth is “quite reasonable” —assuming states don’t pull back public safety measures, Politico reported.
“If you wait just a bit longer to give the vaccine program the chance to increase the protection in the community, then it makes pulling back much less risky,” said Fauci, on “Fox News Sunday.” “But if you do it prematurely there really is a danger of triggering another surge.”
But Fauci expressed concerns the pandemic is still a danger in the United States, with the number of new cases seeming to plateau at 50,000 or 60,000 daily over the last week.
Nearly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Michigan is surrounded by states that dropped restaurant restrictions while Michigan restaurants statewide are still capped at 25% capacity and a 10 p.m. curfew.
Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin have no statewide restaurant capacity limits, according to the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA).
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is imposing more restrictions on indoor areas beginning Monday.
“The only way to beat COVID is to act on what we’ve learned since March,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said in a statement. “Wear masks. Keep six feet of distance. Wash hands. And avoid the indoor get-togethers where we have seen COVID explode.”