While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer strengthened the enforcement for a statewide mask mandate, she also said that wearing a mask comes down to personal responsibility.
"It's on every single one of us to enforce this," said Whitmer in an interview with 13 ON YOUR SIDE. "It's on every single one of us to do our part. This is not an issue that should be political; this is about our public health."
Friday, Whitmer issued an executive order that reiterates that masks are required in public indoor spaces, but it also made not wearing one a misdemeanor, which carries a $500 fine. The order also said masks are required in crowded outdoor spaces where social distancing isn't possible.
The mask mandate is in response to rising cases statewide; this week Michigan recorded its highest daily cases counts since mid-May.
"Now we dropped our guard. Our numbers are going up in every part of the state and I'm very concerned. What we see happening in Florida, or Texas or California could be Michigan if too many of us drop our guard," Whitmer said.
The other significant part of the mask order is that businesses are required to refuse service to anyone who refuses to wear a mask, which has put some in a tricky spot. Some customers have pushed back, and in Flint, one security guard was shot and killed reportedly over asking someone to wear a mask.
"Give the workers some grace. They're just doing their jobs and trying to enforce state law," said Whitmer. "Just show up with a mask."
The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association issued a statement in response to the mask order, saying they've heard from dozens of bars and restaurants whose top complaint is customers who refuse to wear masks and socially distance.
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"This new order levels the playing field for all businesses and will create a safer environment without grief from customers for hospitality businesses," said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis.
If patrons are seated and eating, they don't have to wear a mask.
"We’re grateful that this new order establishes penalties for those acting in bad faith," said Ellis.
The governor's office said violations of the executive order can be reported to local law enforcement or the attorney general's office. And any businesses that don't comply can be reported to MIOSHA.
However, there are some exceptions to the order, notably anyone who cannot medically tolerate a mask is not required to wear one. The governor said she is counting on the "vast majority" of Michiganders to do the right thing
"Where there are some people that might try to abuse what would be a legitimate excuse for one person. I you know I can't speak to what we're going to do about every bad actor. We're just trying to prevail on people to do the right thing. It's on every single one of us," she said.
The governor repeatedly emphasized that with individuals making the decision to wear masks, it could prevent a second shut down and could increase the chances of students returning to school in the fall.
"This is the law, and everyone is expected to adhere to it," she said. "When we do this small sacrifice of wearing a face covering, it will make Michigan a lot stronger and will create opportunity for us to expand on what we can safely do. And so if you want to exercise all of your rights under the law, wear a face mask so that we can continue to open up other sectors of our economy."
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