Emergency Alert Reminds Michiganders: Masks Are Now Required

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By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) An Emergency Alert had cellphones beeping all over Michigan Monday, reminding residents that masks are now mandatory in public.

The alert reads as follows: "From the Governor's Office: Fight COVID-19 by wearing a mask. Michiganders are REQUIRED by executive order to wear face coverings in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. Businesses must refuse entry or service to those who do not wear a face covering (with limited exceptions). More info: Michigan.gov/MaskUp."

alert on masks

Under Executive order 2020-147, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. today, anyone found to be in violation of the order could face a misdemeanor charge, with a $500 criminal penalty. No jail time. 

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. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she signed the order in response to rising COVID-19 cases in Michigan and across the U.S.

While the mask issue for some people has become political  — some believing not wearing one shows courage, or that they don't believe the virus is a threat — state and federal health officials continue to stress that masks will slow the spread, and ultimately save lives. 

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

Read the complete order HERE.

Meanwhile, questions remain about how the mask rule will be enforced. 

In Macomb County, the Sheriff's Office says its deputies will in fact not be ticketing maskless residents.

The following message was posted by the department on social media:

"We have received many questions regarding the Governor's Executive Order 147 (face masks required). If a citizen would like to file a compliant against a person not wearing a face mask when required OR a business failing to enforce this order, please contact: (888)535-6136 OR AG-COVID19@michigan.gov. The Sheriff's Office will respond to an establishment that contacts us regarding a person(s) being non-compliant with wearing a face mask, or who does not leave a business. We will take direction from the business owner or establishment representative on course of action. We encourage all to wear a face mask."

Later, the sheriff's office added this clarification: "Note: Reading through comments, it seems there is a lot of confusion. Just to clarify, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office will NOT be issuing citations to those not wearing a mask, those who wish to make a complaint will be referred to the Attorney General’s Office. If a business wishes to enforce this order, they may require patrons to wear a mask. If the patron refuses, the business may ask them to leave their establishment. If the patron refuses, the business may contact us and we will treat it as a trespassing complaint. We hope this clears up any confusion."

This comes as the state health department on Monday reported 384 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 7 more deaths. Michigan is expected to surpass 70,000 cases on Tuesday.  So far, health officials say 6,075 deaths in Michigan have been linked to the virus.