Trump could violate Ford face mask requirement on plant tour

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President Donald Trump speaks with reporters after meeting with Senate Republicans at their weekly luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Standing behind Trump is Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. has told the White House that it requires everyone in its factories to wear face masks to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, but it's not clear whether President Donald Trump will wear one when he visits a Detroit-area plant Thursday.

Trump, who is scheduled to tour a factory repurposed to make medical breathing machines near Detroit, has habitually refused to wear a mask at the White House and in recent public appearances.

In a statement, Ford said its policy requires everyone in factories to wear personal protective equipment, including masks, and that policy had been shared with the White House. When asked if the company would require Trump to wear the equipment, spokeswoman Rachel McCleery said, “The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination.”

Trump didn't give a definite answer when questioned at the White House Tuesday, saying it would depend on how close he gets to others.

“In certain areas, I would. In certain areas, I don’t. But I will certainly look at it. It depends on what situation. Am I standing right next to everybody or am I spread out?" he said. "Where it’s appropriate, I would do it certainly.”

Not wearing a mask and even making the visit itself could violate coronavirus restrictions ordered by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has been at odds with Trump and targeted by the president on Twitter.

In a May 7 order to let manufacturing fully restart last week, Whitmer required factories to suspend “all non-essential in-person visits, including tours.”

Her stay-at-home restrictions also require people to wear a mask in any “enclosed public space” such as grocery stores, though it was not immediately clear if that rule extends to less public-facing operations like factories.