The Dallas County Commissioners Court voted 3-2 Friday to issue an order requiring all commercial entities to require employees and visitors to wear face coverings.
The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday and continues until Aug. 4 unless County Judge Clay Jenkins extends, modifies or terminates it early.
Individuals 10 years old and older are required to wear face coverings in any public place where social distancing is difficult to maintain. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend individuals two years old and older to wear face coverings, as well.
The order is a response to an allowance granted Wednesday by Gov. Greg Abbott for local authorities to require businesses and stores to enforce regulations requiring the use of face masks.
Businesses who do not adhere to the order face up to a $500 fine.
According to phase three of Abbott’s executive order to reopen the state, “individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.” However, it states businesses can impose additional “hygiene” measures for customers to follow.
In a Friday letter addressed to Texas citizens, nine mayors across the state of Texas urged their citizens to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams signed the letter.
“The virus is here. Infections are rising. Hospital capacity is filling up,” the letter stated. “The virus doesn’t leave just because our collective urgency has gone away. We are not asking you to stay home, but we are asking you to mask up and social distance where possible.”
In a separate letter Tuesday, nine mayors across the state of Texas, including Williams, signed a letter addressed to Abbott requesting authority to enforce that individuals wear face masks as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to grow.
The letter requested an allowance for local authorities to set rules and regulations in public venues where social distancing is difficult to maintain. The letter states that it is important to reopen the economy, but it is also necessary to take precautions against a possible increase in cases.
“That’s why we are writing to you today about one of the best ways to keep businesses open and people safe from COVID-19: the wearing of facemasks,” the letter stated. “This one step could prove to be the most effective way to prevent the transmission of this disease.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson were among the nine that signed the letter.
The letter states that numerous people are not wearing masks despite scientific evidence that indicates face coverings prevent the spread of the virus.
“We think you would agree that a healthy economy starts with healthy people,” the letter stated.
During a press conference Tuesday, Abbott said Texas is at a point where it is coexisting with COVID-19, and the state can maintain the health of the community and the ability to reopen the economy if everyone follows safety measures.
“There are three strategies that everyone can use that will go a long way to slowing and reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said. “One is to wear masks, two is to use frequent hand sanitizing and three is to maintain these safe distancing practices.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Abbott said there are 2,622 cases reported and 2,518 individuals who tested positive and are currently hospitalized in Texas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released two online resources to help individuals make well-informed decisions about going out and gathering with others.