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Member Question of the Day: How Do Businesses Enforce the Mandatory Mask Executive Order?

How will they enforce the new mandatory mask executive order? Businesses are wondering what they are expected to do to be in compliance.


Executive order 2020-147 requires people to wear masks in crowded outdoor spaces and also requires businesses open to the public to refuse entry or service for people who refuse to wear masks.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s new executive order reiterates that masks are mandatory when people are in indoor public spaces.

The order took effect on July 13, and a willful violation is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty, but no term of confinement may be imposed on individuals who violate it. Businesses must post signs at all entrances reminding people of the legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside.

Read the full executive order or see the guide below for more details.

In this Episode: Mandatory Masks

In this Member Question of the Day episode, we're joined by Brian Calley, President of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM),to discuss the particulars of the newest Executive Order regarding the mandatory wearing of masks in closed public spaces. We'll talk medical exemptions, enforcement, and how the general public can help businesses and their employees.

A Plea from the Small Business Association of Michigan

SBAM notes that it is unprecedented and concerning that front line employees are responsible for enforcing the mandatory wearing of masks in their businesses. Brian Calley, SBAM President, called upon the general public to treat these employees with respect, regardless of how one feels about wearing a mask. He asks people to voice their displeasure directly to the Governor's office, and not take it out on employees "just doing their jobs."


Small Business Association of Michigan Resources:

Model Policy & Signage

SBAM has put together a model/best practice policy that fits our most current understanding of the intent and spirit of the executive order and includes some elements that are not explicitly required or stipulated in the Executive Order.

Download a Model Policy to help your employees understand how to enforce the mask EO

Dowload a printable sign for your entry points

The Small Business Briefing covered the mask requirements in more detail during two recent editions:

  • July 10, 2020 – Special Edition on Mask Order with Brian Calley
  • July 13, 2020 – Clarifying & Providing Guidance with Brian Calley & Rob Fowler

SBAM Guide

On July 10, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued an executive order expanding the scope of and increasing enforcement around the requirement of 1.) individuals to wear masks or face coverings when in indoor public places and outdoors when distancing is not possible and 2.) businesses to enforce face mask usage on the general public.

Under this order, businesses will for the first time face penalties for the noncompliant behavior of their customers. This executive order places the employees of businesses into the primary law enforcement role of gaining compliance with rules on the general public when the general public visits the facility of a business.

The purpose of this guide is to help small businesses understand their responsibilities under E.O. 2020-147 and develop a policy to ensure compliance and safety of staff.

The overarching purpose of the policy is to gain higher compliance with the usage of facemasks by the general public. The main business regulation is found in section 3. It is short, but expansive. It reads:

To protect workers, shoppers, and the community, no business that is open to the public may provide service to a customer or allow a customer to enter its premises, unless the customer is wearing a face covering as required by this order.

a. Businesses that are open to the public must post signs at entrance(s) instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside. The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity may, in its discretion, require such businesses to post signs developed and made available by the Department, or conforming to requirements established by the Department.

b. A department or agency that learns that a licensee is in violation of this section will consider whether the public health, safety or welfare requires summary, temporary suspension of the business’s license to operate (including but not limited to a liquor license) under section 92 of the Administrative Procedures Act of 1969, 1969 PA 306, as amended, MCL 24.292(2).

The use of the words “to protect workers, shoppers, and the general public” is meant to establish the widest possible scope and allow for an expansive potential range of enforcement entities. Coupled with the penalties found in section 3(b) and 8, elements of this order could potentially fall under the jurisdiction of MiOSHA, various state licensing bureaus, Michigan State Police, county/local police, the Attorney General, and local public health departments.

The two main responsibilities assigned to businesses are established as prohibitions connected to unmasked individuals.

  1. No business that is open to the public may provide service to a customer unless the customer is wearing a face covering as required by E.O. 2020-147
  2. No business that is open to the public may allow a customer to enter its premises unless the customer is wearing a face covering as required by E.O. 2020-147

The Executive Order does not give any direct guidance on recommended procedures, however, SBAM staff has inquired of and had multiple conversations with state officials regarding compliance so that we may provide additional guidance to small businesses. Here’s what we know and recommend based on our research so far:

Businesses open to the public:

  • Must be compliant with this Executive Order by 12:01 am July 13, 2020.
  • Should establish written a policy outlining procedures for meeting the requirements of this Executive Order and train staff on the elements of its implementation.
  • Must post signs at each entrance available to the public informing them of their legal requirement to wear a face covering while inside.
  • Are NOT allowed to admit a customer into the premises if they are not wearing a face covering, unless they are medically unable.
  • Are expected to verbally notify non-compliant customers of the requirement to wear a face covering and further ask them to leave if the customer refuses to comply.
  • Are NOT allowed to serve a customer who is not wearing a face covering (including at checkout), unless they are medically unable.
  • Are discouraged from any sort of physical management of or physical altercation with customers.
  • Are encouraged to call the police if a customer refuses to leave the premises upon being asked.
  • Are expected to keep employees and other customers away from the noncompliant occupant, mitigating the risk through distancing.

(note: while the Executive Order references “business” as the regulated entity, the requirements should be more broadly interpreted to apply to any entity with employees, which would include nonprofits.)

There are several exceptions to the face covering requirement noted in section 2 of the Executive Order including those who:

  • Are younger than five years old.
  • Cannot medically tolerate a face covering. There is no documentation or proof required of the customer. You should establish a policy regarding what, if anything, you wish to require outside the verbal notification of a customer. Keep in mind that the ADA does not allow a business to require an individual to disclose their disability.
  • Are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment. This exception does not exempt customers from wearing a face covering when not seated at their table, such as when using the restroom or walking to and from their table.
  • Are exercising when wearing a face covering would interfere in the activity. Currently, fitness facilities are only allowed to be open in regions 6 and 8.
  • Are receiving a service for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service. For example, receiving a facial or dental services.
  • Are entering a business or are receiving a service and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes. For example, a bank may require you to reveal your face for the purposes of identification.
  • 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 medical personnel.
  • Are officiating at a religious service.
  • Are giving a speech for broadcast or an audience.

Willful violations of this order are subject to a $500 fine and a misdemeanor consistent with MCL 10.33 and MCL 30.405(3). Additionally, those found in violation are potentially subject to suspension of any applicable business license (including but not limited to a liquor license).

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