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Face Mask Mandates For Some But Not Others Among Inconsistencies In Epidemic Orders

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered every person in Michigan to wear a face mask when in "any public indoor space," and also outdoors when "unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more" from others.

The mandate appeared in 2020 Executive Order 153. Individuals can be barred from entering a business and cited for a misdemeanor offense if they do not wear a face mask.

With Executive Order 161, the governor expanded the mandate, which now requires employees of "all businesses and operations" to wear masks when they "cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace." On Aug. 21, the state announced it handed out fines to businesses that were allegedly not following these orders.

In contrast, Whitmer has permitted public school districts in "regions" of the state deemed to be in "phase 5" of an epidemic lockdown reopening plan the option of not wearing face masks at all. This would include all districts in the Upper Peninsula, and the Traverse City region from Manistee to Alpena. For these districts, the governor’s "MI Safe Schools Roadmap" only “strongly recommends” a face mask be worn in schools by either employees or students. Presumably, the decision will be left to the local school district to decide.