LANSING, Mich. (WNEM) — Across the state, wearing a mask in public spaces, specifically bars and restaurants, has been the source of heated debate both before and after the governor’s latest mandate.

“People are so charged up now-a-days about many things and they’re very proud of the stance, and our people are 100-percent caught in the middle,” said Scott Ellis from the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.

Ellis and the MLBA oversee thousands of businesses across the state.

“The need, the complaints came in of people not wanting to do it, people arguing with them,” Ellis said.

Even tragedy has struck several times across Michigan resulting in frontline employees being hurt or killed after asking customers to wear a mask.

“I don’t want to say it’s a dangerous job now, but it’s definitely changed since this has happened,” Ellis said.

Having spent 20 years in law enforcement, Ellis along with the association got to work. They’re now offering virtual de-escalation training seminars for his members.

“One is to listen, the person wants to be listened to,” he said. “Two, they want to be a part of the solution and then we teach them words maybe they can use and body language. I think it’s just good communication.”

Ellis says a good majority of Michiganders are doing their part and ensuring these businesses can stay open, but he hopes for more compliance from customers.

“What we’re pleading for is for the public to be on our side, not make this into a political thing and please follow the rules because we want to stay open,” Ellis said.

The association is holding one more virtual training on July 30th and Ellis says he expects the training to go nationwide in August.

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