Latest Whitmer Executive Order Forces Small Business to be "Mask Police"

Date: July 14, 2020

New Gov Order Requires Business to Refuse Service to Customers

Small business owners are caught in the crossfire of serving customers and enforcing the governor’s latest Executive Order, 2020-147, that will require any business that is open to the public to deny entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering. The executive order takes effect at 12:01am on Monday, July 13. A willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty and possible revocation of a business’s license to operate.

Under the Order, businesses that are open to the public must refuse entry and service to individuals who fail to comply, and must post signs at all entrances instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside. Those who are exempt from wearing a mask in Michigan businesses include people younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment.

This puts small business owners and their employees in the position of being the enforcement arm and arbiter of the governor’s orders. Due to exemptions in the order, a customer could say they are exempt from the mask requirement because they cannot medically tolerate a face covering. If another customer walks in wearing a mask, and they did not hear that conversation, they could turn the business in to the authorities. What is a business owner or employee supposed to do in that circumstance?  Track down the customer not wearing a mask, after the fact, and get a doctor’s note to avoid the penalty? Are they going to have to guess who is exempt and who is not?

Customers and tempers can flare when the issue of requiring face coverings to enter a business are put on the business owner to enforce. The unfortunate story of a security guard in Flint, MI who was shot dead after trying to tell a customer that a mask was required before they could enter a Family Dollar store was reported in the national news. Hostile people can pose a serious threat to the owner and their employees who are forced to police a mask requirement in addition to their other duties and most small businesses are not going to be able to hire a security guard.

This latest Order is but another example of why the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 is an outdated law that needs to be repealed. When asked if the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 should be repealed, 74% of Michigan small business members said YES, 16% said NO, and 10% were undecided. NFIB continues to work on several fronts to repeal this law and restore the constitutional balance of power in our state government.

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