Gov. Eric Holcomb’s new enforcement effort aimed at limiting business operations to those deemed essential during the ongoing pandemic was apparently not a big hit in Syracuse Friday.
While representatives of Polywood or the state could not be reached for comment Saturday, two people, including a Kosciusko County Commissioner, confirmed authorities with the state met with Polywood officials Friday about whether the maker of lawn and patio furniture should be operating during the statewide stay-at-home mandate.
County Commissioner Brad Jackson said the issue appears to have been resolved and that he was told the governor’s office determined that it qualifies as essential. The company, which makes a popular line of furniture from recyclable materials, qualifies in part because of its use of recyclables and raw materials.
Regardless, Friday’s visit apparently led to a series of phone calls to Jackson, the sheriff’s office and two state senators, Ryan Mishler and Blake Doriot.
The new state enforcement team that could shutter businesses failing to comply is led in part by Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and other state departments.
The sheriff’s office was not involved in Friday’s visit.
Jackson said there was “some frustration that it was a little too aggressive in the way it was handled.” He also added that he thinks the issue has been resolved.
Similar situations are surely playing out elsewhere in Indiana as officials try to limit the spread of the virus.
Jackson said Polywood was the first local company he’s heard that has come under state scrutiny.
Polywood is a good example of companies that fall into the gray definition of what exactly is “essential,” so it’s inevitable that some would be called into question. Click here for the types of businesses deemed essential.
But another round of scrutiny is probably on the horizon when the virus curve begins to level off and businesses eagerly seek to reopen. If the state is serious about holding the line, companies that buck the order in weeks or months to come and reopen early may well face state action.
President Trump and all of the governors face what might be the toughest decision of their careers as they try to determine when it’s safe to drop the stay-at-home orders and restart the economy.
The biggest fear, though, is that reopening businesses too soon would fuel another outbreak, which could be a backbreaker for many small business owners who somehow thought they survived the first round.
A public battle between health concerns and capitalism is not what we need right now. But keeping businesses in unison (not lockstep) until the “proper” time to reopen will probably be a lot like herding cats.
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It’s Easter Sunday. Let’s leave it at that. Be safe and have a nice day.
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Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.