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Whitmer Issues Executive Orders on Masks at Polling Places and Extending Remote Government Meetings

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Cody A. Mott
Foster Swift Municipal Law News E-blast
July 17, 2020

Voting BoothsToday Governor Whitmer issued two executive orders, Executive Order (“EO”) 2020-153 and 2020-154. The first, EO 2020-153, is an updated order requiring masks to be worn when in indoor public places, including government offices. The second, EO 2020-154, extends the order allowing public bodies to satisfy their obligations under the Open Meetings Act (OMA) by meeting electronically or by telephone.

EO 2020-153: Mask Mandate; Polling Places Excepted

This order updates last week’s executive order related to face coverings. It restates the requirement that individuals must wear face coverings when entering any business, government office, or other operation open to the public. Such establishments are required to refuse service to any individual not wearing a face covering, unless an exception applies, as we previously discussed here. Two new requirements directly impact local government offices and their operations.

Verbal Representation of an Exception

A local government office can no longer assume that someone who enters the business without a face covering falls in one of the section 2 exceptions, including the exception for individuals who cannot medically tolerate a face covering. The person must make a verbal representation that they are not wearing a face covering because they fall within a specified exception. The local government may accept the verbal representation without further verification.

Polling Places

An individual is not required to wear a mask when at a polling place for the purposes of voting in an election. Even though masks are not required for voters in a polling place, they are still strongly encouraged. This order will last indefinitely and is likely to be in place during next month’s primary elections.

EO 2020-154: Remote Meetings of Public Bodies

The second order extends public bodies’ ability to meet remotely. The order continues to suspend the OMA requirement that public bodies meet in a physical place with a physical presence by one or more members of the body. Instead, public bodies may continue to meet electronically or by phone, provided there is two-way communication that permits participation by the general public.

Notice of a remote meeting must comply with EO 154 and include an explanation why the public body is meeting electronically, and procedures for how individuals, including individuals with disabilities, may participate or contact members of the body to provide input or ask questions about any  business before the body.

This order will remain in effect for the duration of the state of emergency and for an additional 28 days thereafter. Currently, the state of emergency is in effect through August 11, which means public bodies are able to meet remotely through September 8; however, the Governor may further extend the state of emergency.

For questions related to COVID-19 or this communication, please contact:

For questions or assistance related to COVID-19, you may contact your Foster Swift attorney or a member of Foster Swift’s Coronavirus Task Force:

This article is current as of time of publication. Due to rapidly changing circumstances and updated regulations, we encourage you to confirm with your attorney and/or other advisors to make sure you are operating with the most current information.