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Whitmer orders businesses to require customers wear masks

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has ordered businesses in her state to refuse customers that enter their establishments without wearing a face mask.

“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 the Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Lansing regions,” Whitmer said. “Research confirms that a big part of the reason is spotty compliance with my requirement, issued in prior orders, that individuals wear face coverings in public spaces.”

The executive order also requires masks to be worn in enclosed public spaces and any crowded event. Violators will face a $500 misdemeanor and a business could risk having their license suspended for not enforcing the governor’s policy.

There are some exceptions to the new order. It does not apply to children under the age of five. People who are eating, drinking, exercising, speaking publicly or at religious events are also exempt.

Whitmer’s latest move has business owners not only concerned about their liability but also frustrated that the responsibility to require a mask now falls on them.

“While retailers and retail employees appreciate Gov. Whitmer’s efforts to increase the number of residents wearing masks when in enclosed, public spaces, we are frustrated that she did not leave the policing to law enforcement officers,” the Michigan Retailers Association said in a statement. “This puts retail employees in potentially dangerous situations when they’re forced to confront unmasked customers.”

Whitmer says wearing a mask in public is not difficult and that public safety officials go hours each day without removing their 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,” Whitmer tweeted.

The Michigan Republican Party called the move a clear abuse of power and said that the governor will soon see thousands of residents walking around with Trump masks to show their support of the president and disapproval of her.

Michigan Retailers called the order overly aggressive and asked customers to comply with the order and understand the new position they are in.

“We worry for retail employees’ safety and disagree with the overly aggressive penalties for retailers,” the group said.

The order takes effect on Monday, July 13.

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