Oakland County Health Officer Requires Masks or Face Coverings in Public

Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford has issued local health order 2020-12 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order requires wearing masks or facial coverings when Oakland County residents leave their homes.  Additional health orders may be issued in the coming days to cover capacity at restaurants, bars, employee health screenings and other public health concerns.

“Health and science experts agree that facial coverings are critical to controlling the virus,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “We have come too far to backslide now especially as we want to get kids back to school and our economy moving again. In Oakland County masks will continue to be mandatory by order of our health experts. I am confident that our residents and businesses will continue to keep each other safe and protected.”

The Face Covering Order states:
Any individual who leaves their home or place of residence must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth:

1. When in any indoor public space; this includes all students in grades kindergarten through 12; and

2. When outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; and

3. When waiting for or riding on public transportation, while in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle, school bus or when using a private car service as a means of hired transportation.

4. Athletes training for, practicing for or competing in an organized sport must wear a facial covering (except when swimming) or consistently maintain 6 feet of social distance (except for occasional and fleeting moments).

“Oakland County was hit hard by the COVID-19 and the virus is still in our communities,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, Oakland County Public Health Officer. “The law provides the tools for a local health officer to protect the public’s health during an epidemic and that is my solemn responsibility.  We will work closely with State health officials on additional measures to control the virus.”

Exceptions to the order include individuals who:

1. Are younger than 5 years old, though children 2 years old and older are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering, pursuant to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”)

2. Cannot medically tolerate a face covering.

3. Are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment.

4. Are exercising when wearing a face covering would interfere in the activity.

5. Are receiving a service for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.

6. Are entering a business or are receiving a service and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes.

7. Are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication.

8. Are actively engaged in a public safety role, including but not limited to law enforcement, firefighters or emergency medical personnel.

9. Are officiating at a religious service; or

10. Are giving a speech for broadcast or an audience.

Voters are encouraged but not required to wear a face covering while at a polling place for the purposes of voting in an election.

To view Oakland County’s health orders, go to www.OakGov.com/COVID and click on the “Health Orders” button. Also, to download a printable sign requiring the wearing of masks or facial coverings, click here.

Under MCL 333.2453, the epidemic emergency order for local health departments under the Michigan Public Health Code, the local health officer, acting as the administrative agent of the Health Division, can issue fairly broad orders.  The statute states, “if a local health officer determines that control of an epidemic is necessary to protect the public health, the local health officer may issue an emergency order to prohibit the gathering of people for any purpose and may establish procedures to be followed by persons . . . during the epidemic to insure continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws.”

Violations of local health orders issued under the Michigan Public Health Code are misdemeanors.

For media inquiries only, please contact Bill Mullan, Oakland County media & communications officer, at 248-858-1048.