New order requires Oakland County residents to wear face masks in most public spaces

Violation of new local health order is a misdemeanor

A woman carries a face mask in Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek) (Petr David Josek, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

A new emergency health order is requiring Oakland County residents to wear face masks anytime they leave their home in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford issued an emergency health order Saturday that requires residents to wear face masks or coverings at any location apart from their home.

Oakland County residents are now required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth in the following situations, as listed by the health department:

  • When in any indoor public space; including (but not limited to) all students in grades kindergarten through twelve; and
  • When outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; and
  • When waiting for or riding on public transportation, while in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle, school bus or when using a private car service as a means of hired transportation.
  • Athletes training for, practicing for, or competing in an organized sport must wear a facial covering (except when swimming) or consistently maintain 6 feet of social distance (except for occasional and fleeting moments).

“Oakland County was hit hard by COVID-19 and the virus is still in our communities,” Stafford said. “The law provides the tools for a local health officer to protect the public’s health during an epidemic and that is my solemn responsibility. We will work closely with State health officials on additional measures to control the virus.”

A violation of the county’s health order is considered a misdemeanor.

According to officials, Oakland County residents are exempt from the new order if they:

  • Are younger than five years old, though children two years old and older are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering, pursuant to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Cannot medically tolerate a face covering.
  • Are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment.
  • Are exercising when wearing a face covering would interfere in the activity.
  • Are receiving a service for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Are entering a business or are receiving a service and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes.
  • Are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication.
  • Are actively engaged in a public safety role, including but not limited to law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel.
  • Are officiating at a religious service.
  • Are giving a speech for broadcast or an audience.

“Health and science experts agree that facial coverings are critical to controlling the virus,” said Oakland County Executive David Coulter. “We have come too far to backslide now especially as we want to get kids back to school and our economy moving again. In Oakland County masks will continue to be mandatory by order of our health experts. I am confident that our residents and businesses will continue to keep each other safe and protected.”

Click here to read the entire Oakland County health order.

Stafford’s order comes just after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, claiming the 1945 law that she drew authority from is unconstitutional.

According to Gov. Whitmer, her emergency declaration and related orders still can remain in place for 21 days, and then many of them will continue “under alternative sources” of law. The governor didn’t elaborate, but it’s likely that her administration will act under public health statutes follow the state Supreme Court’s order.

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.