Michigan sports face mask order -- a closer look at it

Face covering must be worn at all times by athletes training for, practicing for, or competing in an organized sport

Hockey players wearing face coverings under their cages. (Pixlr)

The face covering rules for athletes playing organized sports during the coronavirus pandemic in Michigan needed some clarification.

At least that’s according to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who issued another executive order late Wednesday to help clarify her previous order on the face masks to be worn during sports.

Here’s what Executive Order 2020-180 specifies:

  • A face covering must be worn at all times by athletes training for, practicing for, or competing in an organized sport when the athlete cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance, except for occasional and fleeting moments.
  • Athletes are not required to wear a face covering if they are swimming.
  • Athletes competing in football, soccer, or volleyball, for example, are not able to maintain 6 feet of social distance as required and therefore would need to wear a facial covering.

“This order clarifies that, in order to participate in organized sports, athletes must either wear a facial covering or consistently maintain six feet of social distance,” reads the order.

This includes sports such as hockey. Ice rinks have been issuing their own face mask rules now that they are allowed to reopen for organized sports.

“The COVID-19 virus is easily spread through airborne particles and can affect everyone differently. By wearing a face covering when proper distancing is not possible, athletes will be better protected from contracting the virus and spreading it to family members, frontline workers, and vulnerable populations,” said Whitmer in a news release. “We cannot afford to let our guard down. As we continue to fight this virus, we need to make smart and informed choices so we can beat COVID-19 together.”

Previous mask orders in Michigan

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.

Executive Order 2020-164 requires children and workers to wear face masks at Michigan childcare centers, camps and schools. All staff members and children ages 2 and older have to wear face coverings on school buses and other transportation. Staff members and children ages 4 and older have to wear face coverings in all indoor common spaces. Staff members and children ages 12 and older have to wear face coverings in classrooms, homes, cabins and similar indoor small group settings.

Violation of Michigan mask order

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.

Related: 6 Michigan businesses fined for ‘serious violations’ of COVID-19 safety protocols

VIEW: CDC offers updated guidelines for face masks

The CDC continues to recommend that you wear masks in public settings “around people who don’t live in your household and when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others.” Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 to others, the CDC maintains.

Note on gaiter masks

Note: The photo attached above of hockey players wearing “gaiter” masks is not supported by CDC guidelines. The CDC does not recommend the use of gaiters or face shields.

“Evaluation of these face covers is on-going but effectiveness is unknown at this time,” reads a statement from the CDC on Aug. 27.