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Directive won’t change Michigan State Police enforcement of mask order

The Governor said it's not about punishing people into cracking down, it's about changing the culture to make mask wearing and social distancing normal.
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 5:49 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (8/5/2020) - “We are at war with a virus. It’s important that we act like we’re in a war. That we lock arms at a distance and all do what we need to win this war,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday at her press conference.

The Governor said it's not about punishing people into cracking down, it's about changing the culture to make mask wearing and social distancing normal. So, we can protect people. But, she did just sign an executive order in the last 24-hours directing law enforcement departments across the state to make enforcing COVID-19 restrictions "a priority."

So what does that mean?

Michigan State Police said what the Governor is asking of them is what they've been doing all along. This doesn't mean they're going to automatically start citing people.

One business owner said it’s a shame people can’t just follow the rules. “It’s a person’s right not to wear a mask; but it’s my right as a business owner to ask that you do for the safety, again, of our staff and the other customers that are around you, whether you agree with it or not,” Jennifer McDermott said. McDermott owns Cops and Robbers Ice Cream Shop in Flushing.

On your way to order a scoop, you’ll notice they’ve made it very clear you have to wear a mask to do so.

But McDermott said, about 5-percent of customers still choose to go against their request. “We’ve been flipped off. We’ve been threatened to have the cops called,” she explained. “A couple four letter words have been thrown around, some tantrums at the window.” McDermott hasn’t called police yet to help her enforce the order.

The Governor's Executive Directive said it'll be MSP who handles any situation involving the mask mandate.

MSP said because businesses are private property, the issue of trespassing can be brought up if a customer without a mask refuses to leave. If they are called, MSP said Troopers try to educate the person in violation first.

It’s the county prosecutor who determines if they should be held accountable. McDermott added, “You know, it’s a five minute inconvenience until you get your ice cream.” It’s an inconvenience McDermott hopes customers will be willing to deal with so she doesn’t have to fear her young staff getting sick or closing down her shop for a deep clean. “We want to do everything we can to keep everybody safe to keep our staff safe, and to stay open,” McDermott said.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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