EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Whitmer talks to News 10 about mask requirements

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 10:00 AM CDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - In what Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office is calling a swift, life-saving action, the state will require mask use in all indoor public spaces, and will allow authorities to charge a $500 fine to those not complying.

Whitmer signed an executive order that “reiterates that individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space,” according to a Friday news release.

“It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces,” the release said. “Most significantly, the order requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions.”

Businesses open to the public must deny entry to people not wearing masks, excepting children younger than five years old, people who have a medical reason to not wear a mask, those engaging in religious activity at a place of worship and people eating or drinking at a food service business.

The order goes into effect 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Daily case counts are now more than 20 cases per million in Grand Rapids, Detroit and Lansing, according to the release, in part because of “spotty” compliance with previous efforts to get people to wear masks.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said the state’s is not nearly done in the fight against COVID-19.

“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,” Khaldun said in the release. “Please everyone stay patient, and remain vigilant.”

Governor Whitmer talked to News 10′s Kellan Buddy in an exclusive interview.

“When everyone masks up, it makes it more likely that we can stay in phase four and perhaps move into phase five,” she said. “We have to stop this increase we’re seeing in case counts. That’s why masking up is so important and that’s why this executive order is coming out today.”

Governor Whitmer says she want’s businesses to stay open, but to stay safe as well.

"It's incumbent on the business owners to take this seriously, both for their own health, but also for the livelihood of our businesses. It's important that we all do our part to get this right."

Friday, she helped make hand sanitizer at American Fifth Spirits in Lansing.

Owner Michael Garyet says the executive order is the best way to keep customers safe and keep businesses thriving.

“It’s something that has to be done, we’ve seen the result of other locations, bars and restaurants that have not followed these protocols. It’s not a good situation. We need to be more vigilant as a community to make sure that we’re keeping everybody safe,” Garyet said.

With schools supposed to open back up in eight weeks, the governor says there’s not a lot of time left to move into phase five.

“Every action we’re taking is in hopes of staying re-engaged and getting our kids back into school in the fall.”

The full order can be read here.

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