KENTWOOD, Mich. — A sign at the entrance of a metal-cutting shop in Kentwood, a suburb of Grand Rapids, asks customers to “remove your mask or raise both hands high” to avoid being mistaken as a robber.
The sign in front of Tubergen Cutting Tools Inc. reads “In responce [sic] to Gretch, attention: This facility is protected by armed employees for your safety! Remove your mask or raise both hands high and keep um up! Don’t be mistaken as a robber! Thank you, management. Open carry still welcome.”
The sign is in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order mandating businesses to turn away customers who don’t wear facemasks, which went into effect on Monday, July 13. Health experts believe facemasks are an effective way at slowing the spread of COVID-19, the sickness caused by the coronavirus.
Andy Tubergen, owner of Tubergen Cutting Tools said the sign is meant as a joke, and customers are welcome to wear masks in the shop.
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“A coping mechanism of mine is to giggle daily,” Tubergen told The Sentinel. He said while guests are welcome to wear masks, he will not enforce mask wearing for customers or employees.
“A mask in here will quickly get saturated with moisture due to the temperature and the humidity, so it’s not very practical for us to wear masks and breathe at the same time.”
Businesses that don’t comply with the mask-requirement order could be liable for Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) penalties or the loss of their operating license, according to a spokesperson from the governor’s office.
But Tubergen said he wasn’t worried about that prospect, adding the majority of customers who come into the store don’t wear masks.
“Anybody comes in here without a mask, I assume they have medical reasons, and it’s none of my business,” he said. “People who wear masks, I don’t rebuke them or disparage them or anything. Actually only very few people wear masks, and they’re generally older, and that is very understandable, they’re in a risk group.”
Tubergen added he didn’t believe state health data on the virus was accurate, and called coronavirus “a flu strain.”
He believes his customers won’t be offended by the sign, which was still up at around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, and that anyone who would be offended by the sign likely isn’t one of his customers.
“I feel sorry for people that find things like this offensive,” he said. “Those are the same people who find Elmer Fudd’s shotgun offensive. Lighten up.”
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This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Mask sign: Michigan shop warns masked customers of armed employees