LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Friday requiring people to wear masks when they are in an indoor public space and in crowded outdoor spaces.
The order requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who aren't wearing a face covering, with limited exceptions. Governors in Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington have imposed similar requirements on businesses, a news release from the governor's office said.
The order goes into effect immediately for individuals and at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, July 13 for businesses. A violation of the order is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty, but there will be no jail time. The governor's office said violations of the order can be reported to local law enforcement or the Michigan Attorney General.
Businesses that allow customers without wearing masks could face a temporary suspension of their license to operate. Violators could be reporting to Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“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 Whitmer in a statement. “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.”
Whitmer signed this order as Michigan is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. The order says the state's progress in suppressing the virus "appears to have stalled." The state saw its highest daily case count since mid-May on Thursday. The Grand Rapids, Detroit and Lansing regions are seeing the biggest outbreaks with cases exceeding 20 cases per million.
"Studies have shown that wearing a mask can save lives and significantly lower an individual’s chance of spreading COVID-19," a release said, citing modeling from the University of Washington that indicates more than 40,000 lives would be spared if 95% of the population wears a mask in public.
“Michigan's fight against COVID-19 is nowhere near over, which is why it’s so important that we all do our part and wear masks when we’re out in public,” said Chief Medical Executive and DHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “Wearing a mask or face covering can significantly decrease the chance of spreading COVID-19 and save lives. It’s important that all Michiganders wear masks properly - not down around the neck, not only over the mouth, but correctly over the mouth and nose. Please everyone stay patient, and remain vigilant.”
Those who are exempt from wearing a mask are people younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate wearing a mask and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a restaurant.
People are not subject to penalty while at religious services, although congregants are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings during religious gatherings.
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