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Gov Orders Businesses To Refuse Service To Mask-Less Patrons

July 14, 2020

A new executive order requires people to wear masks in crowded outdoor spaces and also requires businesses open to the public to refuse entry or service for people who refuse to wear masks, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office said Friday.

Whitmer’s new executive order reiterates that masks are mandatory when people are in indoor public spaces and comes a day after the Governor said she was considering how to improve compliance with the mask-wearing requirements.

The order took effect at 12:01 a.m. July 13, and a willful violation is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty, but no term of confinement may be imposed on individuals who violate it, according to the Governor’s office. Businesses must post signs at all entrances reminding people of the legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside.

Exemptions from wearing a mask in businesses include people younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment.

The Governor’s office also said no one is subject to penalty for removing a mask while engaging in worship at a house of religious worship, but congregants are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings during services.

Other exemptions include when wearing a face mask would interfere with exercising, people receiving a service requiring temporary removal of the mask, working in a public safety role like police, firefighters or emergency medical providers or those who are giving a speech for broadcast or for an audience.

The mask order came Friday as a trio of health organizations — the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA), the Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA) and the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) — called for people to “maintain responsible distancing and face-covering practices” as cases continue to rise.

The state announced 612 more cases Friday, as well as 15 deaths. Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said Thursday the 610 cases reported Wednesday were the most since May. The statewide totals are now 68,295 cases and 6,039 deaths.

“Hospitals across Michigan are growing increasingly concerned about high COVID-19 case numbers and people letting their guard down about physical distancing and wearing face coverings,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters, in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) also mentioned this dynamic in his response, saying that while the “new mask mandate” is “well-intentioned,” it “puts employees in the precarious and sometimes dangerous position of enforcement.”

Shirkey added later, “Confusing mandates do not support a healthy population nor do they foster a healthy economy. They have the opposite effect and result in non-compliance. This is yet another example of what happens when a single person rules by executive order.”

The Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) said retailers and their employees “appreciate” Whitmer’s move to increase the number of people wearing masks, but “we are frustrated that she did not leave the policing to law enforcement officers. This puts retail employees in potentially dangerous situations when they’re forced to confront unmasked customers.”

The “No. 1 complaint” over the past few months from bars and restaurants, according to Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA), has to do with “patrons who refuse to wear masks and properly social distance themselves from others.”

MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis said the Governor’s “order levels the playing field for all businesses and will create a safer environment without grief from customers for hospitality businesses.”

But the leader of the All Business is Essential campaign called the order “dictatorial and totalitarian” and “absolutely ridiculous.” The leader, Erik Kilunen, called for “civil disobedience” and for people to “go without a mask, and ignore this executive order along with the governor’s other unconstitutional executive orders!”

Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) said Friday Whitmer “completely forgot about the disabled community” in that “any business who refuses service to a disabled customer — or even asks about their disability — is in violation of federal law.”

Whitmer got support from the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) and the Legislature’s Democratic leaders, House Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Northville) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint).

“It might not feel normal, but we have to get used to the new rule of ‘no shirt, no shoes, no MASK — no service,'” Ananich said.

The MDP said that “despite misinformation that many in the MI GOP are spreading, we know for a fact that mask wearing can significantly reduce the spread of the virus.”

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