Breaking Mask Rule A Crime In Michigan Under New Whitmer Executive Order

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By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) Michigan's governor said she might have to take the mask rule a step further so that people comply, and now she has. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Friday morning signed Executive order 2020-147, which reiterates that Michiganders are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space.

Here is what's new in this order, which will go into effect on Monday:

  • Anyone found to be in violation of the order could face a misdemeanor charge, with a $500 criminal penalty. No jail time. 
  • Businesses open to the public are required to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions.
  • Face coverings will also be required in crowded outdoor spaces.

Whitmer's office said she signed the executive order in response to rising COVID-19 cases in Michigan and across the country. “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,” said Whitmer, in a statement. “Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent. By wearing masks, we can save lives and protect our family, friends, and neighbors from the spread of COVID-19. And by wearing masks now, we can put our state in a stronger position so our kids can return to school safely in the fall. For the sake of your loved ones, let’s all mask up, Michigan.”  Reports from the health department show that over the past week, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases, and daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in the Grand Rapids, Detroit and the Lansing areas.

Research confirms, Whitmer's office says, that a big part of the reason for these upticks is spotty compliance with the mask rule.  According to the state: Studies have shown that wearing a mask can save lives and significantly lower an individual’s chance of spreading COVID-19. A study on different regions in Germany, for example, suggests that the adoption of mandatory mask ordinances decreased the daily growth rate of COVID-19 infections by 40%. Modeling from the University of Washington similarly indicates that more than 40,000 lives would be spared nationwide if 95% of the population wore a mask while in public. Furthermore, the state says, a study conducted by Goldman Sachs concluded that a federal mask mandate could save the U.S. economy from taking a 5% hit to our GDP. 

Under the governor’s order, businesses that are open to the public must refuse entry and service to individuals who fail to comply, and must post signs at all entrances instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside.

Whitmer's office notes that governors in the states of Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington have imposed similar requirements on businesses. 

Those who are exempt from wearing a mask in Michigan businesses include people younger than 5 years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a restaurant. 

“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 media release Friday. “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. Please everyone stay patient, and remain vigilant.” 

According to a release from the state: "A willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty, but no term of confinement may be imposed on individuals who violate the mask requirement. No individual is subject to penalty under the order for removing a mask while engaging in religious worship at a house of religious worship; although consistent with guidance from the CDC, congregants are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings during religious services."

Executive Order 2020-147, which takes effect at 12:01am on Monday, July 13, amends and replaces the governor’s previous Executive Order 2020-114. 

Read the complete order HERE.

State health officials said there were 612 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan Friday, marking the second time the number has spiked over 600 since May. The biggest jumps continue to be seen in Mid-Michigan, West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.