Whitmer strengthens order on masks; clarifies rules for businesses, polling places & public safety officers

Posted at 1:50 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 23:14:37-04

(WXYZ) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order that strengthens her previous order requiring all Michiganders to wear a mask in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces.

The new order clarifies that businesses may not assume that an unmasked customer cannot medically tolerate a face covering. Businesses can accept a customer's verbal representation to that effect.

It also requires public safety officers to wear a face covering unless doing so would seriously interfere in the performance of their responsibilities. Additionally, it clarifies that wearing a mask at a polling place for purposes of voting in an election is not required, but strongly encouraged.

“Wearing a mask is the right thing to do to protect our families, our businesses, and our economy,” Whitmer said in a press release. “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.”

“COVID-19 is far from over - people are still getting sick and dying,” said Katie Scott, RN, vice president of the Michigan Nurses Association, in a press release. “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 requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to individuals who, among other things:

  • Are younger than five years old;
  • 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; or
  • Are at a polling place for purposes of voting in an election.

Over the past two weeks, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases, and daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in all but one region in the state. Research confirms that a big part of the reason is spotty compliance with the governor’s requirement that individuals wear face coverings in public spaces, the governor's office said.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

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