Masks now required in outdoor public areas within East Lansing’s DDA boundaries


East Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — People visiting East Lansing’s downtown will have to mask up outdoors starting Monday, August 10.

That’s according to East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens new declaration of a City State of Emergency and release of a new order requiring that masks be worn in all outdoor public spaces.

Those spaces apply to the boundaries of the East Lansing Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

Under this new order and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-153, masks will now be required at all times in all public spaces in the DDA district, both inside and outdoors (sidewalks, streets, plazas, etc.). A violation of this order is a civil infraction punishable by a fine of up to $25 according to Ordinance No. 1488.

“This order has been issued in anticipation of the increased foot traffic that is expected in downtown East Lansing with the return of MSU students this month,” said East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens. “COVID-19 is far from over and we, as a community, need to be doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our fellow community members from the virus that causes it.”

Signs will be installed at the entry points of the DDA district early next week notifying visitors that masks are required. The City is working to implement a downtown ambassador program, which will serve to encourage mask-wearing in the downtown during times when there is anticipated high foot traffic.

The decision to enforce mask-wearing in outdoor spaces follows instructions from Michigan State University.

“With MSU’s recent decision to require that masks be worn at all times both indoors and outside on campus, we decided it was prudent to expand that requirement to the outdoor public spaces in our downtown area for the protection of our community and businesses,” said East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas. “Wearing a mask is one of the simple things we can all do during this unprecedented time to help prevent the spread of this virus, so that we can stay safe to stay open.”

Under Ordinance No. 1488, East Lansing’s mayor can declare a City State of Emergency and issue orders, rules and regulations regarding the use of public property to protect life and property during the declared emergency. While the initial order can only be in place for seven days, it can be continued or renewed with the consent of Council. It is expected that Council will be considering the order’s renewal at its special, online meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Although a mask is strongly encouraged even for people who are not required to wear one, the requirement to wear a mask in the East Lansing DDA boundary does not apply (under both orders) to individuals who are younger than five years old; those who cannot medically tolerate a mask; those who are eating or drinking while seated at a table/food service establishment; those who are exercising, when wearing a face covering would interfere in the activity; or those who are at a polling location for purposes of voting in an election.

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