Whitmer strengthens executive order on masks

Governor Whitmer's official press photo

LANSING — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-153, which strengthens her previous order requiring all Michiganders to wear a mask in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces. This new order clarifies that businesses may not assume that an unmasked customer cannot medically tolerate a face covering, though they can accept a customer’s verbal representation to that effect. It also requires public safety officers to wear a face covering unless doing so would seriously interfere in the performance of their responsibilities, and clarifies that wearing a mask at a polling place for purposes of voting in an election is not required, but strongly encouraged.

“Wearing a mask is the right thing to do to protect our families, our businesses, and our economy,” said Governor Whitmer. “If everyone in Michigan masks up, we can save thousands of lives and put ourselves in a better position to send our kids back to school in the fall. For the safety of our loved ones and our dedicated first responders on the front lines: mask up, Michigan.”

“COVID-19 is far from over – people are still getting sick and dying,” said Katie Scott, RN, vice president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “As a nurse, I’m worried that many people are not taking the pandemic seriously enough. Don’t wait until COVID happens to you or a loved one to take action. Wearing a mask is a simple step that protects everyone.”

EXCEPTIONS TO THE GOVERNOR’S ORDER

Although a face covering is strongly encouraged even for people who are not required to wear one, the requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to individuals who, among other things:

  • Are younger than five years old;
  • Cannot medically tolerate a face covering;
  • Are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment;
  • Are exercising when wearing a face covering would interfere in the activity; or
  • Are at a polling place for purposes of voting in an election.

Over the past two weeks, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases, and daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in all but one region in the state. Research confirms that a big part of the reason is spotty compliance with the governor’s requirement that individuals wear face coverings in public spaces.

Studies have shown that wearing a mask can save lives and significantly lover 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.

To view Executive Order 2020-153, click the link below: