News Story

Oakland Officials Order All Office Workers To Mask-Up

Did county miss Executive Order bit about 'open to the public' offices only?

The Oakland County Health Division appears to be interpreting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders as requiring all businesses make their employees wear face masks regardless of whether they are open to the public.

The agency sent an Aug. 4 letter to United Wholesale Mortgage’s Pontiac site stating it was in violation of two of the governor’s executive orders. The letter stated there were more than 50 confirmed cases of employees contracting COVID-19 at the Pontiac location.

The letter states that an executive order “requires masks to be worn over the mouth and nose when in an indoor space,” and cites Whitmer Executive Orders 153 and 161.

Under Executive Order 161 employers are required to do the following, among other things:

  • “Provide non-medical grade face coverings to their employees, with supplies of N95 masks and surgical masks reserved, for now, for health care professionals, first responders (e.g., police officers, fire fighters, paramedics), and other critical workers.”
  • “Require face coverings to be worn when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace, and consider face shields when employees cannot consistently maintain three feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace.”
  • “Require face coverings in shared spaces, including during in-person meetings and in restrooms and hallways.”

Executive Order 153 requires, among other things:

  • “Any individual who leaves their home or place of residence must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth: When in an indoor public space;”
  • “Businesses that are open to the public must post signs at entrance(s) instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside.”

Is a mortgage lending company considered a business open to the public such as a grocery store, restaurant or gas station?

“Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders are generally unclear and poorly defined, but Executive Order 153 appears to apply to individuals and businesses open to the public, so its mandates should not be forced on a private business," said Michael Van Beek, director of research for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The Oakland County Health Division didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.