There are more problems surrounding Governor Whitmer’s latest COVID-19 virus mask orders. A growing number of county Sheriffs and local law enforcement department Chiefs are not enforcing the new rules. The Governor’s plan requires us to wear a face mask when out in public in crowded outdoor areas, and anytime indoors at businesses. Stores must enforce the rule and require patrons to wear masks. One ambiguous element in the order stores cannot assume someone not wearing a mask is exempt due to health reasons. But, there’s no guidance offered how to enforce in those cases.  Some retailers say it puts too much pressure on employees to be enforcers.

It also puts a new level of emphasis on local law enforcement departments. Some are openly saying they won’t pursue misdemeanor charges against people not wearing masks. Some Michigan Sheriffs are pointing out an Executive Order issued by any Michigan Governor without legislative concurrence is more a suggestion than a law. Former Calhoun County Sherriff Matt Saxton is the Executive Director of the Michigan Sheriff’s Association.  He tells MLive most county Sheriffs are not openly saying anything about enforcement one way or another. Some, however, are openly stating they won’t allow their deputies to write people up on misdemeanor charges for failing to obey the Governor’s mask rules. MLive reports Sheriffs in Van Buren, Ionia, Arenac, and Saginaw counties are open about no enforcement. The same goes for local police departments like Sandusky, and Bad Axe.

And in related situations, local Sheriffs and municipal Chiefs in Michigan have regularly turned away from enforcing virus-related orders of the Governor. Those include a local Sheriff ignoring a Branch County drive-in theater opening contrary to standing Orders of the Governor, a barber cutting hair in Shiawassee County with no action from the Sheriff there, to say nothing of State Supreme Court protection for the barber. One of the latest notable situations involves Hillsdale College welcoming thousands to an in-person graduation ceremony this past weekend. No Michigan State Police Troopers showed up, let alone local county Deputies, to hand out any citations for mask-wearing, or staging a gathering of more than 100 people.

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