FILE - Home construction

(The Center Square) – State Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow some nonessential businesses to reopen if they follow social distancing guidelines.

Cole sent a letter to Whitmer on Monday, claiming her stay-at-home order hurt small businesses, including those in the construction and landscaping industry. Both of those industries, said Cole, allowed workers to work safely while staying apart from each other.

“I certainly understand where our governor is coming from. Public safety must always be the main priority,” Cole said in a statement. “However, keeping people employed and businesses operating must also be a priority.”

Cole suggested reaching a middle ground between complete nonessential business shutdowns and allowing all businesses to operate.

“It would be prudent to enact certain guidelines and restrictions that allow business to be conducted while still adhering to the social distancing recommendations,” the letter said. “For example, a limit on crew size or allowing crews to stagger throughout a 24-hour timeline, among others.”

“Single-family new construction projects, remodels, pole barn/garages, landscaping, dock work, lawn maintenance, delivery of materials, and several other jobs can be completed with very limited social interaction and without jeopardizing public safety. Many entities operate with just one, two or three people in any location at any given time”, the letter continued.

“Often, this work is essential to maintain the viability of a business. Better defining what work activities are allowed to continue under the limited and modified circumstances will help take the financial and emotional strain off of many families. This will ultimately free up time and resources for those that need it the most,” Cole said.

Cole suggested the governor could modify the stay-at-home rule based on population density in different parts of the state.

Whitmer’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In other Michigan-related coronavirus news, State Rep. Isaac Robinson, a 44-year old Detroit Democrat, passed away on Sunday from suspected COVID-19 complications.

As of Tuesday morning, the state reported 6,498 positive cases of COVID-19 and 184 related deaths.

Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order for nonessential businesses through April 13.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on and Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.