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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Signs Sweeping Mask Order Threatening Violators With $500 Fine

Gretchen Whitmer

The Michigan Retailers Association criticized the order as ‘impossible’ to enforce based on vague exemptions that could hurt businesses.


Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Friday that goes into effect Monday mandating face masks in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. It introduces a misdemeanor charge with a $500 fine for violators who refuse.

“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 said in a press release. “For the sake of your loved ones, let’s all mask up.”

Whitmer’s office cited a German study finding that government mask mandates reduced transmission of the Chinese virus by 40 percent.

“Michigan’s fight against COVID-19 is nowhere near over, which is why it’s so important that we all do our part and wear masks when we’re out in public,” Chief Medical Executive and Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in the press release. “Wearing a mask or face covering can significantly decrease the chance of spreading COVID-19 and save lives. It’s important that all Michiganders wear masks properly — not down around the neck, not only over the mouth, but correctly over the mouth and nose.”

Under Whitmer’s new order, businesses must refuse service to those not properly wearing a mask or be subject to harsh penalties, including license revocation. The few exceptions include children under 5 years old and those with medical conditions that prohibit face coverings. It also excepts people eating or drinking at restaurants.

The Michigan Retailers Association criticized the order, however, as “impossible” to enforce based on vague exemptions.

“Determining the validity of an ambiguous exemption is an impossible task for a retailer,” the group said Friday. “And now, even retailers acting in good faith could be subject to severe licensing sanctions based on the actions of non-compliant customers.”

At the height of the lockdowns several months ago, Whitmer became a heroic dictatorial figure on the left for imposing the strictest stay-home orders in the country that barred residential travel in addition to sales of paint and gardening seeds, the latter of which are used in a socially distant manner.

The progressive midwestern governor’s orders prompted several lawsuits and even calls for removal.

Whitmer is now also reportedly on the vice presidential short-list to run with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this fall.