As of Monday, Michigan residents are required to wear a face covering while they are in an indoor public space or while in a crowded outdoor space, per an executive order signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday.
“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,” Whitmer said in a statement announcing the mandate. “Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent.
The state notified residents of the mandate through an emergency alert on their phones on Monday afternoon.
The mandate is a response to a rising number of coronavirus cases in recent days, which have increased to 20 cases per million in Grand Rapids, Detroit and Lansing areas, according to Whitmer’s office.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
Under the executive order, businesses must refuse service to people who refuse to wear a face covering. The order has a few exceptions, including those who are younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a mask, those who are eating or drinking and those who are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired. It also provides exceptions for those who are required to remove a mask for identification or to receive a service, officiating a religious service, giving a speech or performing a public service role such as law enforcement.
Violators of the order could be fined $500.
Michigan currently has more than 69,700 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 6,075 deaths, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]