ORION TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — With every extension of the Stay Home order, tensions between small business owners and the Governor grow.
As the battle to reopen intensifies, while some have publicly defied the order, other businesses complying with the governor are growing frustrated, feeling left out of the decision making process.
In Orion Twp., the owner of Canterbury Village is stumped, after investing in a new service he thought would be allowed. When owner Keith Aldridge acquired a high end LED screen usually used at outdoor rock concerts, he thought he’d come up with the perfect safe, social distancing, family fun event: a drive-in movie theater.
“We saw 3000 ticket sales in an hour,” says Aldridge.
He put together a safety plan and planned to space out vehicles in a 5 acre field.
“Ample space, 20 by 20 spaces. The signal from the movie comes right into your FM radio, you don’t even have to roll down your window! We scan your ticket through the car window,” says Aldridge.
He had a full schedule of drive-in movies planned, with Imagine Theater as a sponsor.
“We thought we were doing something very safe and very good for the community,” says Aldridge.
In April, he was told a drive-in movie theater was not allowed under the executive order so he delayed the opening until May 15th. With outdoor businesses back open, outdoor recreation like golfing now allowed and many churches offering drive-in service … he had hoped to open the socially distant Drive-In Theater this weekend.
Then today for the 2nd time, he got a call.
“The Governor’s office has called our local sheriff department and asked them to tell us not to open and we complied 100 percent,” say Aldridge.
Meanwhile other business owners are choosing to defy the order. A northern Michigan barber made headlines this weekend for opening his shop while supporters stood guard carrying signs and guns.
On Michigan’s west side, Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park plans to open on Friday despite the executive order, according to its Facebook Page.
A Livingston County gym owner is also opening his doors, publicly defying the Governor’s executive order.
Back in Orion Township, Canterbury Village will follow Governor Whitmer’s orders but Aldridge is frustrated that responsible business owners like himself are being left out of the conversation.
“We have to have open dialogue and safety guidelines,” says Aldridge.
Making a drive-in movie theater, where people stay in their own vehicle, follow the same rules as traditional movie theaters, doesn’t make sense.
“Let’s use some common sense and let’s not take a hard line,” says Aldridge.
Seeing parking lots full at many big box stores serving hundreds of customers is frustrating for a locally owned business, going on 2 months without income
“I don’t want anybody coming to Canterbury Village getting sick. I don’t want my wife going into Costco and getting sick.”
“If they can be open and follow safe protocols why can’t a small business?”
Aldridge says he knows the Governor has a difficult job and he wants to work with her, but he’s disappointed that his proactive efforts to plan a safe, socially distant solution to open a small unique part of his business have been ignored.
“Why can’t I have my drive-in open? I’m not trying to hurt anybody,” says Aldridge.
When the Canterbury Village Drive-In movie theater does finally open, it won’t just be for a weekend. Aldridge says it will be a permanent addition to the village.
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