Gov. Gretchen Whitmer encourages Michiganders to mask up on July 15 to prevent the state’s return to phase three.
(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-153 Friday, clarifying the order enacted Monday that required all Michiganders to wear a mask in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces.
The order makes three changes, effective immediately.
Businesses can’t assume unmasked customers can’t medically tolerate a face covering, one of the exemptions, but can accept a customer’s verbal confirmation for that question.
The order doesn’t require people to wear a mask at a voting station for voting purposes but encourages it.
Also, public safety officers must wear a mask unless it would “seriously interfere in the performance of their responsibilities.”
“Wearing a mask is the right thing to do to protect our families, our businesses, and our economy,” Whitmer said in a statement.
“If everyone in Michigan masks up, we can save thousands of lives and put ourselves in a better position to send our kids back to school in the fall. For the safety of our loved ones and our dedicated first responders on the front lines: mask up, Michigan.”
Whitmer supports her order with a German study that suggests a mask mandate can decrease the COVID-19 growth rate by 40 percent.
There are still several exemptions to the mask mandate, including for those younger than five years old, those seated and eating and drinking at a food service establishment, and those who are exercising and a mask would interfere.
“COVID-19 is far from over – people are still getting sick and dying,” vice president of the Michigan Nurses Association, Katie Scott said in a statement.
“As a nurse, I’m worried that many people are not taking the pandemic seriously enough. Don’t wait until COVID happens to you or a loved one to take action. Wearing a mask is a simple step that protects everyone.”
The number of COVID-19 cases have been increasing in Michigan, but many are people ages 20-40, who are less likely to require hospitalization than older Michiganders.
About 87 percent of the state’s 6,101 deaths COVID-19 deaths have been people ages 60 years and older.
Businesses that serve or allow a maskless customer in their store risk the state revoking their license.
The order leaves businesses to enforce the rule, which The Michigan Retailers Association warns endangers retail employees who handle angry, maskless customers.
“Determining the validity of an ambiguous exemption is an impossible task for a retailer,” the group said in response to last week’s mask order. “And now, even retailers acting in good faith could be subject to severe licensing sanctions based on the actions of non-compliant customers.”