LANSING — Governor Whitmer signed an additional order that clarifies businesses may not assume an unmasked customer cannot medically tolerate a face covering, though they can accept a customer’s verbal explanation that they fall within a specified exception and do not have to.
It also requires public safety officers to wear a face covering unless doing so would seriously interfere in the performance of their responsibilities and clarifies that wearing a mask at a polling place for purposes of voting in an election is not required, but strongly encouraged.
The new order also addresses the interaction between the mask order and prior Safe Start orders that also required face coverings in indoor public spaces.
“Wearing a mask is the right thing to do to protect our families, our businesses and our economy,” Whitmer said. “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.”
Exceptions to the mask order
Although a face covering is strongly encouraged even for people who are not required to wear one, the requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to individuals who:
- Are younger than 5-years-old
- Cannot medically tolerate a face covering
- Are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment
- Are receiving a service for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary
- Are exercising when wearing a face covering would interfere in the activity
- Are at a polling place for purposes of voting in an election
- Are entering a business or are receiving a service and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes
- Are communicating with someone who is deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication
- Are officiating at a religious service
- Are giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience, provided that the audience is at least six feet away from the speaker
“COVID-19 is far from over — people are still getting sick and dying,” said Katie Scott, RN, vice president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “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 state has said that 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.
More and more young people are also testing positive for the virus, showing they are likely gathering for summer events and get-togethers without following mask and social distancing guidelines.
Whitmer signed an executive order requiring masks be worn in indoor public spaces last Friday, with Lansing sending out a cell phone alert regarding the order on Monday. She also extended the declaration of state of emergency and disaster in Michigan, thereby extending her emergency powers and ensuring she has the legal framework to pass further emergency orders if the health crisis gets worse.
A study on different regions in Germany suggests that the adoption of mandatory mask ordinances decreased the daily growth rate of COVID-19 infections by 40 percent. Modeling from the University of Washington similarly indicates that more than 40,000 lives would be spared nationwide if 95 percent of the population wore a mask while in public.
Read the new executive order here.