Governor Gretchen Whitmer has toughened the rules that require masks in public to slow the spread of COVID-19. Her latest Executive Order says businesses must deny service to people who refuse to wear masks indoors. It also says customers must remain at least six feet from others outdoors.
Some people are exempt from the new rule, including children under five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate one, anyone eating or drinking while seated at a food establishment or engaging in religious worship.
“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," Whitmer said in a press conference Friday.
But Amy Drumm with the Michigan Retailers Association says the order places store employees in a difficult position when faced with angry customers.
“They can’t physically deny someone entrance because they are not law enforcement officers. So we are asking them to engage in that action -- before they can call law enforcement they have to first confront them and ask them to do the right thing and then it was escalate at that point,” she said.
Violating the order is a misdemeanor that can be punished with a $500 fine. Calls for comment about enforcing the new rules weren't returned by sheriffs in five northern Michigan counties.
In April, sheriffs in four northern Michigan counties said they wouldn't enforce violations of Gov. Whitmer's stay-at-home order.