Oakland County issues mask mandate when in public

Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford on Saturday issued an order requiring residents to wear masks or facial coverings when leaving their homes, the county said in a news release.

Additional orders may be issued in the coming days to cover capacity at restaurants, bars, employee health screenings and other public health concerns, according to the release.

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Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter (Photo: Clarence Tabb Jr., The Detroit News)

“Health and science experts agree that facial coverings are critical to controlling the virus,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said in the release. “We have come too far to backslide now especially as we want to get kids back to school and our economy moving again. In Oakland County masks will continue to be mandatory by order of our health experts.

“I am confident that our residents and businesses will continue to keep each other safe and protected.”

The order states that anyone who leaves their home or place of residence must wear a face cover over their nose of mouth for the following reasons, according to the release:

  • When in any indoor public space, including students in grades K-12.
  • When outdoors and unable to maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals not a part of their household
  • When waiting or riding public transportation, a taxi or ride-sharing service, school bus or when using a private car service as a means of hired transportation.
  • Athletes training, practicing for, or competing in an organized sport must wear a facial covering, except when swimming, or consistently maintain 6 feet of distance except for “occasional and fleeting moments.”

Exceptions to the order, according to the release, include individuals who:

  • Are younger than 5 years old, though children 2 years old and older are “strongly encouraged” to wear a face covering.
  • Cannot medically tolerate a face covering. 
  • Are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment.
  • Are exercising when wearing a face covering would interfere in the activity.
  • Are receiving a service for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Are entering a business or are receiving a service and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes.
  • Are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication.
  • Are actively engaged in a public safety role, including but not limited to law enforcement, firefighters or emergency personnel.
  • Are officiating at a religious service.
  • Are giving a speech for broadcast or an audience.

Voters are encouraged but not required to wear a face covering while at a polling place for voting in an election. Violators of local health orders issued under the Michigan Public Health Code are misdemeanors, according to the release.

“The law provides the tools for a local health officer to protect the public’s health during an epidemic and that is my solemn responsibility,” Stafford said in the release. “We will work closely with State health officials on additional measures to control the virus.”

The news comes one day after the Michigan Supreme Court in a 4-3 landmark ruling decided Gov. Gretchen Whitmer violated her constitutional authority by continuing to issue executive orders to combat COVID-19 without the approval of state lawmakers.

Whitmer had been issuing orders like mask mandates and restrictions on public gatherings under the 1945 Emergencies Powers of the Governor Act, which the high court ruled unconstitutional. Republican Michigan Senate Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, indicated on Saturday that state lawmakers will work with Whitmer on a new COVID-19 response, but said “there will be no caucus support in the Senate, at least, for state mandates for things like masks.”

The state on Saturday reported 1,158 new coronavirus cases and 13 additional deaths, bringing the statewide count since the start of the pandemic to 127,516 cases and 6,801 deaths.


Twitter: @Casey_Harrison1

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