Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new Executive Order requiring masks in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces as COVID-19 cases spike in the state.
Executive Order 2020-147 reiterates that individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space. It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces.
The order requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions.
Under the governor’s order, businesses that are open to the public must refuse entry and service to individuals who fail to comply, and must post signs at all entrances instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside.
Those who are exempt from wearing a mask in Michigan businesses include people younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment.
The executive order takes effect at 12:01am on Monday, July 13.
A willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty, but no term of confinement may be imposed on individuals who violate the mask requirement. No individual is subject to penalty under the order for removing a mask while engaging in religious worship at a house of religious worship, although consistent with guidance from the CDC, congregants are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings during religious services.
Governor Whitmer signed this executive order in response to rising COVID-19 cases in Michigan and across the country. Executive Order 2020-147 amends and replaces the governor’s previous Executive Order 2020-114.
“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,” said Governor Whitmer. “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.”
Gov. Whitmer said on Thursday that the state was considering tightening mask rules as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state.
“Over the past week, we have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Michigan, and over the holiday weekend, we saw countless Michiganders gathered in large groups to celebrate Fourth of July without a mask,” Whitmer said. “I think a lot of people saw this video footage from Cass County, Diamond Lake. Right now, the law requires that anyone in an enclosed public space has to wear a mask, and that means every store you’re going into. We’re reviewing that requirement and considering whether or not we need to take this a step further, to strengthen compliance, because we cannot let our guard down.”
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“The data is not looking so good,” said Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, the chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Khaldun said the situation isn’t as extreme as it was in the spring, but Michigan needs to “get back on track” to avoid the cases escalating further.
Whitmer compared Michigan’s spike with the much larger increases in many southern states.
“We cannot afford to play fast and loose with the rules, and just look at what’s happening with Florida,” Whitmer said. “It took less than two weeks for Florida to go from 100,000 to 200,000 positive cases, and the cases there are still climbing. Last week, they reported over 11,000 cases in one day. That can happen very quickly anywhere in this country if we drop our guard. Statewide, one in five cases are patients that are between the ages of 25 and 34. So, youth will not protect you from caring and spreading this virus to your friends and family and neighbors. We have got to all work together to protect one another.”
Whitmer said wearing a mask can reduce the chance of spreading the coronavirus by about 70%.