Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) administration issued a new order Monday requiring masks in smoking lounges.
The Center Square reported the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued the surprise edict:
Michigan cigar and vaping lounges were caught off guard Monday afternoon by a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services memo effectively prohibiting smoking in their facilities.
The enforcement, according to the memo, was prompted by MDHHS efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19. All smoking lounges in the state must require face masks be worn at all times. …
The memo, signed by MDHHS Departmental Analyst Jason Osoff, Policy Enforcement & Monitoring/Tobacco Section, states the department’s emergency powers grants it the authority to implement and enforce measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As of Wednesday morning, the order was not listed on the MDHHS website.
According to the news site, violations of Whitmer’s order are considered a misdemeanor, carry a $200 fine, and could include a $1,000 fine per day.
Whitmer’s agency is also targeting businesses for violations.
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“Businesses that permit smoking on their premises may also be cited for violations of the order,” it said.
Whitmer allows the removal of a mask for eating or drinking, according to a February 4 edict, but participants in “in gatherings for any exercise activities, group fitness, or organized sports” must wear one.
The latest order pointed out smoking is not included in the exemptions.
“Accordingly, it is a violation of the order for a person to remove their face mask to smoke tobacco or any other substance (including vaping, marijuana, or herbal substances) while participating in a gathering,” the order said.
“This means that tobacco specialty retail stores, hookah lounges, cigar bars, and other venues that hold an exemption from Part 126 of the Public Health Code cannot permit smoking in their facility,” it stated.
When Whitmer announced a “three-week pause” in November — which lasted over 14 weeks — a smoking lounge owner told Fox 2 said it was “devastating.”
“The impact that it has on small businesses like myself can make or break a business,” Lance McGhee of Detroit’s Storm Cigar & Hookah Lounge said.
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