GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday issued a new executive order with strict requirements about wearing masks in public, hoping to reverse a recent rise in a cases in Michigan.
Under Whitmer’s order, people must wear masks in public anytime they are indoors in a public space and anytime they cannot maintain proper social distance while outdoors. Businesses should deny customers who won’t. Violators could face a misdemeanor charge with a fine of up to $500. Businesses that shirk the law could lose their license.
On Friday, News 8 surveyed the first 100 people seen going into a couple of Grand Rapids-area stores, counting which were wearing masks. The overwhelming majority were.
“My thought as far as a misdemeanor, I’d have to give that more thought because that’s new,” said Tim Dolphin of Ada as he arrived at the Target on 28th Street in Cascade Township. “It may seem a bit harsh.”
At that Target, 95 of 100 customers were wearing masks. At the Cascade Meijer, similar results, with 85 out of 100 people wearing masks.
“Not a fan,” said a man identifying himself as Max from Grand Rapids. “Because I don’t think that she should have that power. I think people should wear a mask because they think it’s the right thing to do or the safe thing to do, right?”
“I think it’s necessary,” Kate Henige of Lowell said. “And if parents want to send kids back to school and we want to get the numbers down, I think we need to wear our masks. Mask up!”
On Friday, the Michigan Retailers Association put out a statement saying it was “frustrated that (Whitmer) did not leave the policing to law enforcement officers.”
“This puts retail employees in potentially dangerous situations when they’re forced to confront unmasked customers,” the statement continued.
There are currently five states with similar mask laws.
“None of us asked for this, so we have to work together and take care of our individuals and others and get through it,” Dolphin said. “The more we help each other, the faster we’ll get through it. And we’ll leave it there.”