Michigan attorney general tells police to be lenient with businesses unable to supply masks to workers


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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is asking law enforcement to consider "good faith efforts" for businesses that are not able to supply its workers with protective face coverings, a critical tool in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

As of Monday, per Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's latest executive order, which extended the statewide stay-at-home order through May 15, businesses that conduct in-person services must provide their employees with cloth masks or bandanas in an effort to reserve medical-grade coverings for health care workers. It also requires all people to wear masks when in an enclosed space, like those businesses offering essential services, including grocery stores and pharmacies.

In a statement made Sunday, Nessel says a shortage of supplies could restrict how quickly employers can comply with this order and that police should ease up on taking action against businesses that attempted to procure masks but failed to do so.

“I know many business owners around the state are working hard to reopen and comply with the Governor’s Executive Order. Securing appropriate face coverings by the Monday deadline, though, appears to be a difficult task for some businesses given limited supplies,” Nessel said in a release.

“Therefore, I am asking our law enforcement partners around the state to consider the good faith efforts of businesses that have tried, but have been unsuccessful, in obtaining appropriate face coverings when deciding whether to take criminal enforcement action against a non-compliant business.”

Whitmer's most recent order, issued Friday, also states that no one will face criminal consequences for not wearing a mask in public; however, businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone not taking precautionary measures.

“There are some grocery stores that are saying if you don't have a mask, you can't come in," Whitmer said on Friday. “That is a practice that protects both their employees and the public.”

Last month, AG Nessel also clarified confusion following Whitmer's executive order, which ordered Michigan residents to stay home unless traveling for essential goods or services, securing the health and safety of a loved one, including pets, or taking part in outdoor recreation while maintaining social distancing practices. She confirmed that police cannot legally pull a driver over for the sole act of driving during the stay-at-home order.

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