Gov. Whitmer signs new mask order requiring business enforcement, crowded outdoor spaces also now included

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Friday that addresses mask usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Executive Order 2020-147 reiterates that Michiganders are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space. The order also now requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces - and says that businesses open to the public are now required to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions. A $500 fine will also now be in order for "willful violators."

This tightening of the mask rules comes amid an uptick in cases over the last three weeks. Gov. Whitmer said she was looking to "tighten" Phase 4 restrictions before moving any region back a phase in the Mi Safe Start plan. 

Daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in the Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Lansing regions. Gov. Whitmer's press release says research confirms that a big part of the reason for the uptick is spotty compliance with the governor's requirement, issued in prior orders, that individuals wear face coverings in public spaces.  

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. 

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

Governors in the states of Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington have imposed similar requirements on businesses. 

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. 

The executive order takes effect at 12:01am on Monday, July 13. 

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, 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.