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By Carol Stiffler

What was formerly urged is now an order: Michigan residents must wear a mask whenever they leave their home and enter a public building.

That means employees at work must wear a mask. Shoppers in a store must wear a mask. Even people staying outdoors must wear a mask if they cannot maintain a six-foot distance from others not in their household.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-147 on July 10 ordering everyone to wear a mask and businesses to refuse service to anyone who does not wear a face covering.

Businesses found in violation of the order will temporarily lose their license to operate, according to Whitmer’s order.

The no-bones-about-it approach is different for many and unpopular to some.

At the U.P. Trading Company and Exclusive Moose in downtown Newberry, owner Sharon Magnuson has required all customers to wear masks since being allowed to reopen weeks ago.

“Ninety percent of the people – even ninety five percent – were really, really good about it,” Magnuson said. “We had a few people come to the door who said ‘If I have to wear a mask, I’m not coming in.’ We said, ‘Well, sorry.’”

Magnuson’s stores, which are side by side, offer free disposable masks if a shopper needs one, and sells cloth masks made by several companies. One popular face covering, the Boho Bandeau, has sold out repeatedly and another shipment is expected any day.

Magnuson’s store attracts visitors who have come to the area from almost anywhere. That leaves her and her staff quite exposed to the coronavirus, which is still exploding in states like Texas and Florida. The United States has had more than 3.3 million confirmed cases to date.

Part of Magnuson’s concern is because she regularly spends time with her mother, who is 95, an age group that makes her among the most vulnerable to the disease.

“I don’t like wearing them,” Magnuson said. “Nobody likes wearing them. But it doesn’t bother me. I just want to see this darn COVID go away and things get back to normal.”

Whitmer’s executive order said Michigan’s progress in suppressing COVID-19 has stalled. “Over the past two weeks, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases,” she wrote.

Whitmer cited projections made by the University of Washington which show that more than 40,000 lives would be spared nationwide if 95% of the population wore a mask in public. A study done by Goldman Sachs said a nationwide mask mandate could spare the U.S. economy from taking a 5% hit to GDP.

“Wearing a mask is an effective and low-cost way to protect ourselves and our families from a deadly disease,” Whitmer wrote. “It should be—and is—the responsibility of every Michigander.”