Shiawassee County officials update business owners on enforcement, legalities behind mask mandate

Mask wearing has become a contentious issue among many people.
Mask wearing has become a contentious issue among many people.(WJRT)
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 6:14 PM EDT
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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Wearing a mask. To enforce or not to enforce? The topic is one of contention among many. It was also the topic Tuesday in a Zoom meeting between the Shiawassee County health director, sheriff, and the executive director of the Owosso DDA.

“I think this puts businesses in a unique and precarious position to the relationship with their customer,” said Owosso DDA’s Josh Adams.

So what if a person has a medical condition like asthma, heart disease, COPD or other illnesses to where they can't tolerate wearing a mask?

“I would advise asking them what that condition is. Simply, don’t get into an argument, except their answers that I have a medical condition,” said Larry Johnson, Shiawassee County Health Department Director.

Johnson said he’s pleased to see many people wearing masks and businesses for the most part are cooperating.

“Some people don’t like it. I get that. I totally understand it. But the fact is the latest science has shown that wearing a mask can reduce the spread up to 40 percent,” Johnson said.

But what about the legalities behind the governor’s mandated order that masks be worn in all indoor public spaces? Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole said it’s an order, not a law.

“We’re going to encourage personal hygienic consciousness, we’re going to encourage people to wash their hands, social distance. But I’m not going to write a ticket,” BeGole said.

BeGole said business owners should consult their attorneys and develop a policy. And while the Sheriff’s office won’t write a ticket, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration can if employees are not following the governor’s orders.

“There’s contradictory information. They just don’t know what to believe so I think people just need to be respectful and kind.”

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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