GRAND HAVEN — A coalition in Grand Haven launched a promotion today encouraging people to wear a face mask when in stores, bars and restaurants.
Organizers hope other communities can localize the “For the Love of Grand Haven” campaign, which is designed to foster community unity as businesses recover after shutdown orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re hoping everybody takes this and runs with it,” said Jeremy Swiftney, executive director of the Grand Haven Main Street Downtown Development Authority.
“Economic recovery is going to happen everywhere,” Swiftney added. “Our goal is that everyone can use this. They can make their own logo. They can make their own masks.”
A website designed by Muskegon-based Revel Marketing through an in-kind donation has logos to download and adapt that play on the promotion’s “for the love of community” theme, including “for the love of beer,” “for the love of sunsets,” “for the love of shopping” and “for the love of sushi.”
The grassroots campaign quickly came together following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that took effect July 13 requiring people to wear masks while at indoor public places and crowded outdoor spaces to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and stem the growing number of COVID-19 cases.
The coalition — consisting of the City of Grand Haven, North Ottawa Community Health System, and the Main Street DDA — had 1,500 reusable cloth face masks made that sport a heart and the letters “GH.” The group planned to distribute the face masks to frontline workers at downtown stores, restaurants and bars.
“This initiative with the masks gives our frontline workers and our economic partners and our Main Street an opportunity to all come together with one unified voice to say, ‘We’re in this together. The best way forward for us as businesses, for economic development, for economic recovery, is to follow suit. To be one unified voice, to wear the masks and to be safe for the community at large,’” Swiftney said.
The Grand Haven Main Street DDA raised $5,000 from members to pay for the initial printing of the branded face masks.
The promotion includes banners hung around downtown and signs for merchants to place in their store and restaurant windows to remind people — both locals and summertime tourists to the lakeshore community — to wear a face mask.
“This is just the beginning to maintain and stay safe and healthy, and to ensure people visiting here that we are on top of it and we are forward-thinking,” said Steve Loftis, the owner of Harbor Restaurants, which includes The Grand and Dee-Lite Bar & Grill in downtown and Snug Harbor overlooking the Grand River near Lake Michigan. “We want a safe environment 24/7 for our guests (and) a safe environment 24/7 for our staff.”
People generally have been following the executive order and wearing a face mask, he said.
“We’ve had great cooperation,” Loftis said. “The guests we’ve had visiting our establishments throughout this community have been great about it.”