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Business Can’t Assume Unmasked Patrons Have Medical Excuse

July 21, 2020

Business owners shouldn’t assume someone not wearing a mask inside their establishments are medically unable to do so, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in an update to her mandatory mask executive order Friday.The Governor wrote in Executive Order 2020-153 that if a customer says he or she is not medically able to wear a mask, an employee can take that person at his or her word.

“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,” Whitmer said. “For the safety of our loved ones and our dedicated first responders on the front lines: Mask up, Michigan.”

House Republicans issued a statement Friday that by the Governor encouraging store clerks to confront people for not wearing masks she is forcing store clerks “to be the police in misguided and potentially dangerous” situations.

“She wants all mask-free people approached and interrogated for their non-compliance,” the caucus wrote on its Twitter account.

The Department of Civil Rights gave three options for businesses to implement its “no mask, no service policy.”

– Provide anyone who does not have a face covering an alternative to entering without one – for example, carry out service or have someone shop for them

– Offer some other accommodation, like a face shield, if the person has a medical condition that prevents him or her from wearing a mask

– Banning from the establishment anyone whose reason for not wearing the mask isn’t covered in the Executive Order

Also, Whitmer wrote Friday that while masks are strongly encouraged at the voting booth, they are not required. It creates a rare exception for those not required to wear a face covering in a public indoor venue or during outdoor gatherings of numerous people.

Others not required to wear a mask include those who are:

– Younger than 5, although kids from 2-5 are still encouraged to put one on. Children younger than 2 should not wear a mask

– Medically unable to wear one

– Eating or drinking in a restaurant

– Exercising

– Receiving a service where a face covering would get in the way, like someone getting their teeth cleaned

– Needing to identify another person

– Communicating with the deaf or hard of hearing

– Working as police, EMS or firefighters if a mask would “seriously interfere” with their duties

– Officiating a religious gathering

The Governor’s order on mask wearing comes as Michigan’s cases of COVID-19 have ramped back up after reaching a low point in early June. Friday’s Department of Health and Human Services numbers had 660 new cases and 7 deaths over the last 24 hours. Michigan now has 72,502 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,108 deaths.

Last Friday, the daily number of new cases was 612. The Friday before, July 3, it as 460. The Friday before that, June 26, it was 146. The Friday before that, June 19, new cases totaled 211.

To put the tallies in perspective, the number of confirmed cases in Michigan is roughly equal to the population of Southfield. The number of total deaths is roughly equal to the population of Holly, Milan or Huntington Woods.

Whitmer noted a German study that found that requiring face coverings be worn decreases COVID-19 growth rates by about 40%.

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