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Whitmer expands mask mandate to kids 4 and up in child care centers, camps

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has expanded her mask mandate to include young children at child-care centers and camps, citing "outbreaks" at those facilities. 

Starting Monday,the order requires kids over the age of 2 to wear a mask on public transport such as a school bus and requires kids above the age or 4 to wear a mask in all indoor common spaces. She strongly encouraged wearing a mask when indoors for any children over the age of 2. 

At camps, all staff and kids above the age of 12 must wear masks in cabins, classrooms or other indoor settings, according to the order

A child does not need to wear a mask if outdoors and able to keep six feet of distance, or if the child is sleeping, eating, swimming or playing "high-intensity" sports.

In a June 17, 2020, file photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich.

The face coverings are recommended but not required in Regions 6 and 8 — covering the 17 counties of Lower Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula — because they are considered to be in Phase 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan. 

“I am committed to doing everything in my power to protect people of all ages from COVID-19," Whitmer said. "By masking up, we can all be a part of the solution to further prevent the spread of the virus and save lives.”

During the last week of July, there were eight new and five ongoing outbreaks related to youth programs, including camps and child care facilities, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

Whitmer said the new rules align with her executive orders requiring mask usage in schools.  

Violations of the order will be treated as a misdemeanor and enforced by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

LARA also was directed to develop "infection-control practices" for camps and child care centers to use. 

"Have your child practice properly wearing a mask – over their nose, mouth and chin – while they are at home so they are comfortable with it in public," said Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. "It will take all of us, of all ages, doing our part to continue slowing the spread of this disease and to protect our families and communities.”   

eleblanc@detroitnews.com