All Michiganders must wear masks in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces or face a misdemeanor charge that comes with up to a $500 fine under an executive order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Friday.
“The heroes on the front lines of this crisis have gone hours without taking their masks off every day – doctors, nurses, child care workers, grocery store workers. We owe it to them to wear our masks when we’re on a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy,” Whitmer said in a press release announcing the change.
“Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent. By wearing masks, we can save lives and protect our family, friends, and neighbors from the spread of COVID-19. And by wearing masks now, we can put our state in a stronger position so our kids can return to school safely in the fall. For the sake of your loved ones, let’s all mask up, Michigan.”
A previous order required masks in indoor places but did not include any penalty for violating the order. This adds crowded outdoor spaces to the list of places masks must be worn and specifies individuals who violate the order are subject to a misdemeanor that carries up to a $500 fine, but no jail time.
Businesses must refuse entry to those not wearing masks, and may be subject to their licenses being pulled if they don’t.
There are exceptions: children under five, people who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, when eating and drinking at a food service establishment, when a face covering would interfere with exercise, are getting a service that requires the mask to be temporarily removed, must remove a mask to be identified, are communicating with somebody who is hearing-impaired, are giving a sermon or speech and are actively engaged in a public safety role.
The order takes effect immediately for individuals and on Monday, July 13 for businesses.
Whitmer hinted Thursday she was eyeing additional measures to ensure people wear their masks and didn’t rule out instituting a penalty for those who didn’t comply.
The mask situation has already proven to be a stressor for local businesses, which have varied in their approach to requiring masks.
Nationally and in Michigan, employees asking people to wear masks have faced confrontations and violence, including a security guard in Flint who was shot and killed earlier this year.
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