Metro Detroit businesses, school districts respond to Michigan’s updated mask mandate

Broad mask order will expire July 1

Gov. Whitmer drops mask mandate for fully vaccinated Michiganders
Gov. Whitmer drops mask mandate for fully vaccinated Michiganders

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. – Michigan is lifting mask requirements for most indoor and outdoor settings for fully vaccinated residents, matching newly issued guidance from the CDC.

The new order will take effect on Saturday, May 15 at 9 a.m.

May 14, 2021: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 873,335; Death toll now at 18,500

Under the updated MDHHS Gatherings and Mask Order, Michiganders who are outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.

While indoors, fully vaccinated Michiganders will no longer need to wear a mask, but residents who are not vaccinated, or have not completed their vaccinations, must continue to wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves and others.

MORE: Michigan lifts mask requirements for fully vaccinated residents, matching CDC guidelines

It will be the first time in more than a year that Michiganders will not be required to wear a mask in public.

Not much will change in the days ahead for businesses like grocery stores and restaurants. Many Metro Detroit business owners aren’t certain they have enough information to make a drastic change.

Stage Deli owner Steve Goldberg said it’s been challenging, but it’s welcome news that Michigan is one step closer to normal.

“It’s just going to be wonderful to be able to deliver service with a smile and allow our smiles to be seen,” Goldberg said. “It’s very hard to get that smile across the eyes and interact with our guests to see their faces.”

He said he’s waiting for further guidance -- either from the state or the county health department -- before he takes down his “You must wear a mask” sign or lets his staff work without masks, but he said he looks forward to that day.

“It’s hard working 12 hours a day in a hot kitchen with a mask on and I’m sure everyone will be happy to be free from that,” Goldberg said.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Elizabeth Hertel said business owners are welcome to keep the current rules and that there is going to be more clarity coming soon to assist businesses moving forward.

“We plan to have all of our guidance updated by next Tuesday or Wednesday of next week,” Hertel said. “I know we have a lot to look at quite a few documents.”

“It’s just going to be much easier and much more pleasant to return back to what we always did so well before the pandemic,” Goldberg said.

Both Meijer and Kroger grocery stores announced Friday they will not be changing their in-store mask requirements anytime soon.

READ: Meijer, Kroger will continue to require masks in all Michigan stores

Novi Community School District superintendent Dr. Steven Matthews said none of the guidance released takes classrooms into account.

“A majority of our staff members are vaccinated, which is a positive thing, but the vast majority of our students are not vaccinated, which -- according to this guidance -- creates some dilemmas,” Matthews said.

Parents on both sides of the issue are passionate about the topic -- vaccinated teachers may not want to wear a mask, but the students are likely required too. Additionally, neighboring districts may operate different, which creates pressure and potential conflict.

Matthews said he’s worried that the vague directives mean for school children.

“Is wearing a mask all of a sudden going to be some kind of a new scarlet letter in schools? You know it increases the potential that some students will be made fun of, or bulled because they are wearing a mask and other students are not,” Matthews said. “It just creates a lot of uncertainty.”

The Bloomfield Hills School District said it is waiting on further directions from the Oakland County Health Department and is still requiring masks for anyone on school properties.

Mask policy changes raise new set of questions for Michigan schools
Mask policy changes raise new set of questions for Michigan schools

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