As local cases rise, Governor issues mask order

Governor Whitmer mask
Governor Gretchen Whitmer is pictured left with Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. (Michigan Office of the Governor)

With the number of COVID-19 cases rising, Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Friday issued an Executive Order that immediately requires Michiganders to wear a face covering while in an indoor space, or in crowded outdoor spaces.

The order also requires, effective at 12:01 a.m. on July 13, that any business open to the public refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions for those younger than five, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a restaurant.

According to an Oakland County map, the number of recent infections across the four major Farmington and Farmington Hills ZIP codes have risen over the past week from single to double digits. Since the county began recording, the area has seen more than 830 infections, and at least 118 COVID deaths.

County-wide, the 7-day average of daily cases has climbed from a low of 9 in June to 52 on July 10, and daily cases have risen steadily over the past two weeks.

“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,” Whitmer said in a press release. “We owe it to them to wear our masks when we’re on a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy.”

Over the past week, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases. Whitmer said masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent.

Under the governor’s order, businesses that are open to the public must refuse entry and service to those who refuse to mask up. Owners must post signs at all entrances letting customers know about the legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside.

A “willful violation” of the order is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty. In addition, no one will be penalized for removing a mask while worshiping in a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, although congregants are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings during religious services.

Clarification: Language was added to the original post to clarify that the order regarding businesses takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. The requirement for masks while indoors or in large groups is immediately effective. 

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