Berrien County Sheriff's Office plans to enforce new COVID executive order

NOW: Berrien County Sheriff’s Office plans to enforce new COVID executive order

Beginning Monday, anyone in Michigan who is medically-able is required to wear some kind of face covering while inside any public place and businesses risk getting a citation if they don’t comply.

This is one of the latest executive orders by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and specifies that anything from a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief is an acceptable face covering.

Following Whitmer’s announcement Friday, Attorney General Dana Nessel released a statement asking law enforcement to be more lenient toward businesses who haven’t yet given face coverings to their employees since medical-grade masks are in short supply.

The order requires your mouth and nose now be covered when in enclosed public spaces. And while businesses could face a misdemeanor if they don’t comply, customers aren’t at risk of a criminal penalty – however, they could be asked to leave by store managers if they are without a face covering.
“the requirement is for individuals to wear them within a closed space open to the public - that is a requirement - so the store can enforce that, but there’s no penalty,” said Chuck Heit, Berrien County Undersheriff.
At Roger’s Foodland in St. Joseph, employees are already all set - thanks to their customers who donated handmade masks.

Managers at Roger’s don’t plan to ask people without face coverings to leave, but they strongly encourage customers wear one when coming into the store.

“We definitely appreciate it as employees, seeing our customers wear masks. As far as requiring them, we’re not to that point yet but it could be. We don’t really know, we just have to follow suit with whatever everybody else does,” said Zac Bernard, Roger’s store director.

Another challenge for Berrien County officers - the amount of 911 calls they’ve gotten from people reporting others for not wearing masks. Heit says there is a county COVID tip line which people can call with concerns - but he asks they be reserved to businesses in violation, not people.

“If it’s complaining about an individual that’s not something we can really take action on, the store can refuse or deal with that from a store standpoint,” said Heit. “If it’s employees, we’ll follow up on it. But again, just like we have from the very beginning, the tip line was set up to not overrun dispatch with the number of calls they’re getting referencing the non-emergency violations to the order.”

If you see a business in Michigan that’s in violation of that executive order and want to let officers know, the Berrien County COVID tip line is 800-815-5485.

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