Osceola Co. sheriff will not write violation tickets

Williams: ‘We are deputies, not doctors’



OSCEOLA COUNTY — Osceola County Sheriff Ed Williams said his department will not be issuing tickets to individuals or businesses for not wearing masks in public.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest executive order went into effect this week and states all businesses must refuse entry or service to people who do not wear a face mask, with limited exceptions, and post signs at all entrances instructing customers of the requirement.

The order also mandates people must wear face coverings when they are outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household or when using public transportation.

A violation of the order can result in a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty, but individuals cannot face jail time for violating the mask requirement.

However, Williams said he is leaving it up to area businesses to decide how they will be enforcing the order.

“Businesses have the right to refuse service to people, be it for no mask, no shirt, no pants and so on,” he said.

Williams explained the sheriff’s office will respond to calls from businesses that choose to enforce the governor’s order if people are not wearing a face mask and refusing to leave the premises or causing other disturbances.

“Our deputies will continue to respond to calls regarding the executive orders only when there is a need for us to keep the peace due to a criminal matter such as assault or trespassing. If we are needed for this type of activity, we will handle these as crimes which could potentially constitute arrests,” he said. “We will however not write anyone a ticket for an executive order violation, whether it be an individual or a business.”

According to the executive order, people are exempt from wearing a mask if they are younger than five years old, cannot medically tolerate a face mask and people who are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment, among other exceptions.

Williams noted the sheriff’s office will not be making any determinations regarding whether or not individuals have a medical condition which prevents them from wearing a mask.

“We are deputies, not doctors,” he said.

Williams said his goal as sheriff is to continue to serve the people of Osceola County and that he appreciates the support the department has received from the community.

“It will remain my policy to enforce the laws of the state of Michigan, respond to calls requesting service and address each occurrence based on the facts presented in a manner intended to protect the Constitutional rights and interest of all involved,” he said.

Under the order, businesses that do not comply with the mask mandate risk losing their license.