Michigan Retailers Group Not Happy About New Mask Rules: 'They Risk Possible Violence'


(WWJ) Under a new executive order, businesses in Michigan will be required to enforce rules requiring face coverings.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday signed Executive order 2020-147, set to take effect on Monday, which says businesses open to the public must refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a masks, with limited exceptions.

Meagan Holland, spokesperson for the Michigan Retailers Association, said the group is not happy about this news. 

The primary concern, she said, is enforcement.

"It totally puts the burden of face mask enforcement on the retailer. We believe it should be with local police agencies," Holland told WWJ Newsradio 950's Dan Jenkins. "And I think it's very worrisome for stores right now. If they get any blowback from customers, they risk possible violence, they risk possibly temperately losing their license."

Under the new order, businesses are also required to 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, amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases nationwide. 

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 health officials and the CDC continue to stress that masks will slow the spread, and ultimately save lives. 

Whatever you reason, Holland is pleading with everyone to just follow the rules. 

"They (the public) aren't all convinced they should be wearing masks," she said "And these stores now are going to have to force people to do something that they really don't want to do. And we just want to convey to all consumers: Please, for the store's sake ... you know, they're just trying to stay in business to serve you.... For the store's sake wear a mask and don't give them a tough time about it." 

Holland said she hopes that, over time, people will get used to it.

"You know, there's always been a long time of adjustment. When smoking was banned, that was a long time of adjustment. When seatbelts were instituted, that was a big adjustment. So hopefully people will catch you that we've just gotta do it. We've gotta buckle down and put on that face mask."

Whitmer's office said she signed the executive order in response to rising COVID-19 cases in Michigan and across the country. Also included in the order to take effect July 13: Face coverings will also be required in crowded outdoor spaces.

Also added this time around is a criminal penalty. Whitmer's office says anyone found to be in violation of the order could face a $500 misdemeanor charge.

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. 

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. The total number now stands at 68,295 cases, with 6,039 related deaths.