UP law enforcement and representatives respond to travel concerns

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) — Chippewa County Sheriff Mike Bitnar shared a post on the department’s Facebook page on Friday in regards to people from areas outside the Upper Peninsula traveling to the area.

“I have started to get many questions about those snowbirds or summer residents who are already starting to head back north. This has many people nervous and angry that they are allowed to come back up, as most people think it’s illegal,” it read on part. “I completely understand the concern about those heading back up here to their summer homes and cabins as some will no doubt bring the virus with them.”

State Reps. Ed McBroom and Beau LaFave said they advise anyone who does come from lower Michigan to self-quarantine for two weeks in order to protect themselves and the people who live in those areas year-round. LaFave suggested having other individuals bring them their groceries.

WJMN asked McBroom and LaFave about the possibility of closing the Mackinac Bridge to noncommercial traffic.

“Everybody who talks to me about closing the bridge says it needs to be left open for essentials such as medical, food, and mail,” McBroom said.

LaFave says he had a conference call with the rest of the delegation for the Upper Peninsula on Friday afternoon, and that shutting down the Mackinac and other bridges into the Peninsula would not be effective at this time.

Similarly, limiting or suspending travel between the Wisconsin and Minnesota borders seems unlikely.

“We have a lot of people up here themselves who have to cross the border everyday who are deemed essential employees. How are we going to shut down that border and check that without making sure everyone has papers, making sure there’s a police presence? Is that something we really want to do? I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that,” McBroom said.

LaFave said law enforcement have not been empowered to conduct random checkpoints or pull over random vehicles.

LaFave also shared a video on Friday with an at home way to make hand sanitizer.