Michigan stores are reopening. Masks are required. Who’ll enforce it?

Retailers and shopping centers in Michigan are making their own decisions about how to handle customers who attempt to enter without face-coverings during the coronavirus pandemic. (Shutterstock)

When Twelve Oaks Mall opens Thursday for the first time since late March, differences will be visible at the Novi shopping center.  There won’t be seating in the food court. Maybe one-third of the stores will be ready for customers. 

And shoppers will be told to wear face masks.

“We will have a lot of messaging around the shopping center,” said mall manager Daniel Jones. “Signs will be posted at the entryways that a mask is required.”

But who will enforce that?

Twelve Oaks joins other retailers and shopping centers in Michigan in making their own decisions about how to handle customers who attempt to enter without face-coverings during the coronavirus pandemic. 

That’s been the case in Michigan since April 26, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer mandated masks in enclosed public spaces for anyone physically able to wear one. 

But the order still comes without criminal penalty. And as thousands of additional retail stores around the state are now allowed to open (in some regions with exceptions) that means more potential flashpoints between store management and customers. Some customers expect all fellow shoppers to wear masks. But some shoppers are resisting. 

It’s a difficult situation for the stores and shopping centers, said Meegan Holland, spokesperson for the Michigan Retailers Association. 

“Most retailers I know want their customers to wear face masks,” said Holland. But, she said, without police enforcement, stores have few options when customers don’t. 

Adding to the pressure: Some shoppers are vocal about wanting face masks worn in stores, notably on social media. For retailers trying to rebuild lost sales, maintaining unenforceable rules will be the key to getting customers to feel safe and come back, Holland said.

 

Posting signs asking shoppers to wear masks will only go so far when customers won’t comply.

“It’s up to a retailer, by refusing service,” Holland said. “And I’ve already witnessed where that caused tension.”

Another retailer told Holland she’d been “flipped off” when asking someone to wear a mask.

“Those retailers are standing there all day long, being exposed,” Holland said. “People need to do that to protect them.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone (with and without symptoms) wear cloth face-coverings when leaving their homes, according to its COVID-19 guidelines, to reduce the risk of community exposure.

“Since people may spread the virus before symptoms start, or even if people never have symptoms, wearing a cloth face covering may protect others around you,” according to the CDC. “Face-coverings worn by others may protect you from getting the virus from people carrying the virus.”

It’s a divisive issue. President Donald Trump’s visit to Ford Motor Co. in Ypsilanti on May 21 and drew criticism online and from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for not wearing a mask in front of cameras. Democratic challenger Joe Biden wore a mask to a Memorial Day event, drawing criticism from Trump.

Incidents have been reported around the country of people either ridiculing mask-wearers as fearful or demanding that people without facial covering leave a public space. Some conflicts turned physical, including shoppers in Holly and St. Clair Shores who face allegations of assaulting store employees after they were asked to wear masks.

And in Flint, four people are standing trial for the killing of a Dollar General security guard who’d requested one of them, a customer,  to wear a mask.

The concerns among retailers are only growing now that more stores are opening, Holland said. 

Shoppers also face the question: What if they expect store employees and fellow shoppers to wear masks, but that’s not happening?

Fewer than half of Michigan business owners polled would require customers wear face masks if they were discretionary, according to a survey conducted May 12-20 by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Bankers Association.

Another 20 percent were unsure, and almost 5 percent didn’t answer.

But almost 27 percent of respondents said they would not require masks. 

The retailers group soon will be offering de-escalation training for employees who are confronted with customers who decline to wear masks.

Social-distancing notices in Monroe's ALDI's store throughout the coronavirus pandemic. (Shutterstock)

Some stores will have extra masks on hand to offer customers. They’re also coming up with ways on their own to diffuse mask situations. 

“We told them we’d be happy to set up a time after hours to come back and shop,” said Dawn Gray, manager at Momentum Outfitters in Traverse City, after two customers pushed back on store requests last weekend. 

Jones, the Twelve Oaks manager, said customers there are likely to see both employees and other shoppers wearing masks. The expectation is the same in Auburn Hills at Great Lakes Crossing, which also opens Thursday. Both malls are part of the Taubman shopping center chain.

“The good thing is that we are seeing very strong compliance in other properties,” said Jones. “We believe it will be the same here. We will work with individuals, and have some [masks] available here. 

“We’ll deal with it on a one-off basis.”

Holland is hopeful that civility will win. Anyone who doesn’t want to wear a mask can still be served through curbside service, she said, without arguing with employees.

“You need to do this if you want to come into their store,” she said. “Be sympathetic to the fact that they’re just doing their jobs.”

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Comments

Kevin Grand
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 6:54am

"Adding to the pressure: Some shoppers are vocal about wanting face masks worn in stores, notably on social media. For retailers trying to rebuild lost sales, maintaining unenforceable rules will be the key to getting customers to feel safe and come back, Holland said."

What the virtue-signaling warriors love to spout off about, DOES NOT reflect what I've observed around the state.

People either ignore these "orders" or they simply remove any masks they were wearing and go about their business after they enter the store unaccosted by karens while shopping.

The resolve of the majority of virtue-signaling warriors immediately disappears when they are face-to-face with people who don't share their paranoia.

Anonymous
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 8:22am

Probably the local police will enforce it, trespass on private property, attempted assault and battery, nuisance, intentional infliction of emotional distress....

We'll probably go through a spat of riots or something like the Lansing protests.

America is mentally ill, Trump isn't the cause, just the manifestation.

Brent
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 11:11am

Shoppers can be informed of the Executive Order. If they do not wear a mask, they may not be accosted or otherwise harassed. It should be presumed they have a medical reason for not wearing a mask. Per the ADA, they may not be asked about their medical condition, they may not be asked to prove a medical condition, they may not be charged a fee for any accommodation. Stores are failing ADA tests every day, and information is being complied for a possible class-action lawsuit. Be forewarned.

Anonymous
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 12:27pm

Snopes says nope. Americans without disabilities are not protected under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Further, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not pertain to customers at a grocery. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/able-bodied-ada-mask-loophole/

Snopes?
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 5:12pm

Come on...left winger fueled Snopes?? LOL!!

Exactly.
Tue, 06/30/2020 - 5:31pm

Snopes is ignoring the decades of evidence for every other disease known to man that people who could have a medical need cannot be forced to wear a mask. People who work in research lab situations are laughing their butts off at Snopes, who write whatever to validate their liberal agenda.

Anonymous
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 9:33am

If I choose to not wear a mask because I am not sick, have not been exposed and just flat out do not want to, if they choose to try to enforce the face mask, I will then choose to NOT spend my money in their store.

Yeet
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 6:26pm

Wow so edgy so brave

Anonymous
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:50pm

why don't you go to the moon,you don't need to wear a mask there either

Mary
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 11:01pm

Good, that will allow the rest of the community to support the economy safely without fear of infecting our families by possibly contracting the virus from the many people like you who may, unknowingly have it. I have no idea if I have it or not, but I wear a mask to protect others like you in the event I may have it.

Anonymous
Fri, 05/29/2020 - 9:05am

A business owner and their employees do not care if a customer chooses not to shop because they won't respect them. Going to lose more customers that aren't comfortable shopping because half the people are entering the store without masks than a handful of customers who for some crazy reason think they're better and smarter than every other person on this earth. Business owners want a huge and loyal customer base, but once thing we are not willing sacrifice is our responsibility to the community we do business in.

Todd
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 5:13pm

Wrong. I'm a business owner and will not enforce it and will let everyone know that I will not enforce it. I respect those who aren't parrots.

Hifihedgehog
Tue, 06/30/2020 - 5:32pm

Thanks Todd! I appreciate your patriotism free of virtue signaling.

EdofGB
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 9:39am

No problem for me; the masks are a huge challenge for me to breath through so I have no plans to shop.

nick
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 9:57am

I'd love to see store owners who choose to require that masks be worn while in the store post signage at the entrance and ads that state that. Stores that don't require it and won't enforce it can also post that info. In that way, we will be free to choose the environment in which we shop. Don't want to wear a mask in a store that requires it? Don't shop there. Want to wear a mask in a store that does not require it? Knock yourself out! Info is the key.

EB
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:31am

No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service. It's not that difficult.

Stores need to make certain that signage unmistakably lets customers know that masks are required and that no one will be serviced (e.g. checked out) unless they're wearing a mask.

The cashier should very politely tell unmasked customers that the store's cashiers have only two choices: either not service an unmasked customer or get fired.

Brent
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 11:06am

That would be an ADA violation, and reportable to the Department of Justice. The store could be required to close, face fines, put employees thru training, and so forth.

Anonymous
Fri, 05/29/2020 - 9:07am

You're not correct. I do not have a disability, therefore I do not fall under the protection of the ADA

Avenged
Sat, 05/30/2020 - 9:22am

Your assuming that everyone is without disability. There are millions that do fall under the ADA and have legitimate reasons for not wearing masks.

Gazelda
Fri, 05/29/2020 - 10:43pm

Like the Dollar General in Flint had posted? The security guard asked the lady to wear a mask due to corona virus. She refused. He paid with his life. It's not right to put the responsibility on a clerk who may be making minimum wage when the next crazy customer could hurt/kill them. Easy for you to say "no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service " but would you look down the barrel of a gun and repeat that?

A Yooper
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:47am

It's simple.
No shoes..no service.
No shirts...no service.
No mask, no service.
Unemployed security guards would love the work.
Those who wish to tussle with them get arrested.

Todd
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 5:15pm

No service also means no income for said business ya genius.

Brent
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 11:02am

This article mis-stated the face covering directive of EO 2020-92, Section 15, Paragraph (a), which states persons who are able to medically tolerate wearing a face covering should do so for indoor public places. It does not say "physically able." There are many people with respiratory conditions who should not wear a face covering. Retailers are refusing to accommodate these people. To refuse to accommodate a person with a medical condition or disability is an ADA violation. So, for all of the retailers that are refusing service to people not wearing face coverings, you are violating the ADA.

MaureenThomas
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 11:51am

The wearing of a mask by all employees and customers is the condition upon which the retailer was permitted to open. The obligation to enforce this condition rests with the retailer. They control the location and they make the profit. If they don’t comply, they must be forced to close.

Local law enforcement officials need to leave their politics at home and assist local businesses by enforcing the law as written until a court finds it to be unenforceable or issues a TRO.

If someone walked into Home Depot or Kroger brandishing a deadly weapon, I suspect that management and local law-enforcement would not hesitate to act. The non-mask wearer is a deadly weapon. Lax or non-existing enforcement simply breeds noncompliance.

Lakeshore fan
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 2:02pm

It is not a law! It is an order.

kat
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 1:41pm

See bottom regarding ADA:
An "accommodation" does not necessarily mean to allow someone to do what they want when they want. For those with a medical condition, a business could accommodate people who cannot wear masks in several ways:
1 - Allow them to order online or by phone and deliver or have curbside pick up - but not allow them inside the store. That IS an accommodation
2- Designate the last hour of store time to those who are not able to wear a mask. Then they could have closing time for sanitation. That IS an accommodation.
Store operators, hair and nail salons, and other business owners and employees have a right to be protected and to protect themselves.
Based on the number of people wearing masks in the Oakland County area - more people will want masks than not and will be happy to comply. Those stores that don't value the business of the mask-wearing public and cannot accommodate those with medical issues in a way that does not expose others will likely lose business and potentially close. That is yet another risk in this risky time that people may not choose to take. Most of the people I know, myself included will not be spending money at a business that choose to not protect its customers.
_________________________
What's True
Businesses that require customers to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic are required to accommodate people who may not be able to wear masks due to a medical condition.
What's False
Americans without disabilities are not protected under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Further, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not pertain to customers at a store.

Hank
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 3:36pm

It’s easy: when we can ditch the masks people will return. That will be the point where people feel safe on the whole and people that don’t wear masks won’t be shamed.
Until then...don’t expect much to improve. Who is going out for a family dinner when you need you strap on your mask??? Who is doing much of anything that they can avoid if they have to mask up? Just wait for the barren corridors when malls open up. Check out what is already not happening at Disney Springs.
I fall in the group where I will wear a mask but I’m avoiding any optional scenario where I need to wear one.

Kazoo86
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 8:13pm

Well........ I wrote a rather harsh comment this morning, when it said, “be the first to comment.” I submitted it and it is nowhere to be seen. My opinion was quite harsh, but the freedom of the press, has been suppressed by the press. Some freedom and some comment section. I did like “Bridgemi.com.” But since I have been denied my freedom of comment in the press, I am no longer going to participate in their news. I thought I was reading on neutral territory. Oops, my bad!

Le Roy G. Barnett
Fri, 05/29/2020 - 9:07pm

This statement by BRIDGE appears at the beginning of the comments section:
Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.
Apparently you did not heed this warning.

No mask, no way
Fri, 05/29/2020 - 9:39am

The homemade masks people are wearing do ABSOLUTELY nothing to prevent the transmission of a virus. If EVERYONE had an N-95 mask it might help but only if everyone wore the mask correctly. I do not wear a mask and I have not at all since this all began. If I went to a store that said I had to wear a mask, I would leave, but I would also never spend a dime in that store again...ever. This is all silliness, no mask, no way.

old saying
Fri, 05/29/2020 - 8:16pm

Say it....don't spray it.

If you think cloth masks don't work, you've never encountered this scenario have you?

Or coughing individuals.

B Wolf
Fri, 05/29/2020 - 9:56am

Yesterday I went into the Walmart in Tawas. The sign at the door stated masks were required - I had a mask and gloves. I would say about 10% of the people in the store did not have a mask. I asked one man where his mask was and he laughed. I asked a woman and she pointed at me and said I had one. I asked an employee if they were enforcing the regulation. He said they tried for a couple of days and now ignore them. I spotted another employee with his mask below his nose. I will not be shopping at Walmart again.

B Wolf
Fri, 05/29/2020 - 9:56am

Yesterday I went into the Walmart in Tawas. The sign at the door stated masks were required - I had a mask and gloves. I would say about 10% of the people in the store did not have a mask. I asked one man where his mask was and he laughed. I asked a woman and she pointed at me and said I had one. I asked an employee if they were enforcing the regulation. He said they tried for a couple of days and now ignore them. I spotted another employee with his mask below his nose. I will not be shopping at Walmart again.

Marshall
Fri, 05/29/2020 - 3:48pm

I'm kinda puzzled by the response to this. I have huge disagreements with the Governor regarding her orders and am a frequent and vocal critic. Still, I have no beef with store clerks who are working and trying to make a living. Why would I make their lives harder or more dangerous just to prove a point? Claim protection under the ADA? That's got to be the most cowardly response possible for one who is not truly disabled. I guess I could also fake a physical disability and get better parking, no? I wear a mask because it may keep others healthy. Find me a bunch of medical experts who say otherwise and I will reconsider.

Anonymous
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 5:02pm

Are your disagreements with the Governor based on science, data, facts, and researchers/doctors? If so, please post it, you might change a few minds. Otherwise, who will care that you "disagree with the Governor" about anything. It's really not about you and your opinions.

mike
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 1:23pm

We appeal to political science; but simple math works, too; and basic common sense.
Coronavirus size: 60-140 nm The holes in cloth threads are around 10,000nm - 20,000 nm.
Masks are not the right solution. They did not work in China, they will not work anywhere else.
Good hygiene is the right solution. It is assumed in every model that people will not practice good hygiene.
So, we resort to fear; masks help create that fear. But "Fear is not productive, and fear doesn’t protect you from illness in any way,"
https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/03/preventing-the-spread-of-...

Even the N95 mask only stops 95% of of particles that are over 300 nm; as such, the N95 has a slightly better chance to stop such small particles. But the only thing that normal cloth masks (or even surgical masks) do is stop a globule from a sneeze or cough that would have been stopped by good hygiene. How do we get people to wash their hands?!?

Michelle Carlson
Sat, 05/30/2020 - 8:35am

It’s a sad day when neighbor is pitted against neighbor because of a mask. Watch another “spike” in covids just before Wittmer’s stated time of June 12 to open up more businesses. She will extend the shut down. It’s a control thing. Hope I’m wrong.

Anonymous
Sun, 05/31/2020 - 9:00pm

If a store posts a requirement that customers wear masks, I can decide if I want to shop there. When I find that customers are not wearing masks as required, I immediately leave the store. I’ll leave my groceries in the cart in the aisle. If retailers are not going to enforce it, they should not post it. If masks are merely a suggestion, say so and let the customer decide if they want to shop there.

Todd
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 5:10pm

I'm not wearing a mask. Ever. It's not good for people and it makes me touch my face even more. If a business enforces this I'll take my business to Amazon. The end.

Anonymous
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 5:04pm

Todd, please take all your business to Amazon. You are a danger to all store emplyees and all of your neighbors. it's best you stay indoors and away from all people. Win-win.

Almighty Dollar
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 4:50pm

Lots of ignorant selfish people out there. I just went in to a convenience store and saw construcition workers (in their 20's and 30's) as well as a younger women simply not bothering. They were talking loudly and frankly couldn't care less if they infect the store employees or other people.

As for this old guy, I simply will not go out much and certianly not to stores where these careless and ignorant people are welcome. Asking someone to wear a mask for a few minutes to protect their fellow man is a bridge too far I suppose. And to think that these people worship patriotism, the flag, and our military. When I see them all I can think of is selfishness and immature, childlike behavior.

Simply sad and incredilbly stupid behavior.

mike
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 12:54pm

First off, the real solution to stop this virus (and to stop the flu and cold, too) is better national and international hygiene. It's really that simple. It's reflected in every scientific model, where we assume poor hygiene. But, good hygiene stops this virus. Furthermore, stay home if you're sick or at risk. Problem solved.
What about the mask? I wear a mask - but ONLY because I respect those who have been scared by the media to believe a cloth or surgical mask can help stop this. It cannot, of course; but as governmental leaders, we are expected to tell our people something. A vaccine is coming; it won't help either, but because people cannot wash their hands and learn to cough in their elbows, we'll get another vaccine. The Almighty Dollar you say? https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2019/11/21/flu-shot Follow the money.
Back to the mask: Even the N95 mask is designed for particles bigger than this new coronavirus.
Cloth masks do LESS THAN NOTHING to help stop the flow of a 60nm-140nm corona-virus particle. Cloth masks have threads in the 20,000nm range; with gaping holes between the threads that are at least a HUNDRED TIMES bigger than the coronavirus.
The N95 mask is designed to stop some particles at a 300nm range. But cloth masks simply cannot stop the particles from being spread. We're being lied to; China wore masks, it didn't help. we're being asked to wear will only help if
So the mask issue is not about the dollar; you're being lied to, and we expect you not to know about nanometers. This is about the government needing to tell people that we can do something to stop this. It's about social conditioning and political science over biological sciences and basic math, and it's about the erosion of personal liberties.

Sharon
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 3:38pm

One restaurant in Iron River — no staff wearing masks, cook wears mask around neck but not covering mouth or nose. Stores not enforcing masks. Maybe 50% of customers wear masks. A Dollar store that asked customer to wear mask caused customer to throw purchases on floor and storm out without paying.

JJ
Thu, 06/25/2020 - 4:44am

I have seen signs outside indicating you must wear a mask. Yet no one is enforcing it. Not at the entry point and let alone inside the stores. I have also seen some employees not wearing one or not wearing it correctly.

None of this is a surprise nor is the increase we are starting to see in new Covid-19 cases. We need to enforce rules otherwise the rules are pointless.