Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley this morning provided an update on COVID-19 and announced an executive order requiring the wearing of masks in most public situations.
Judge Whitley shared that over the past two weeks, Tarrant County has seen a 52% increase in positive COVID-19 cases, a 67% increase in hospitalizations and a 14% increase in deaths.
“We believe that masks are our best alternative at this time,” he said, emphasizing that he does not want to return to the restrictions instituted in March.
Today’s executive order will become effective at 6 p.m. Friday, June 26. Here are the highlights:
What is required of businesses?
Any commercial entity in the county that provides goods or services directly to the public must develop a "health and safety policy" that includes requiring anyone inside their facility to wear a face covering when in close proximity to other people. Businesses may add other measures to their policy in addition to masks such as temperature checks or health screenings, and their policy must be posted “in a conspicuous location” so that it’s visible to the public. The county order also includes an example policy that businesses may use.
Who has to wear a mask, and when do you need to wear it?
The order urges anyone 10 years or older to wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth anywhere in public where it is difficult to keep six feet of separation. It REQUIRES that masks be worn in Tarrant County businesses that provide goods or services to the public, as well as outdoor areas where 100 people or more are present. Please note: The CDC does not recommend face coverings for children under 2 years old.
When don’t you need to wear a mask?
• When eating or drinking
• When receiving a service where the wearing of a face covering would impair the performance of the service (i.e. receiving a facial)
• If wearing a mask poses a “significant mental or physical health risk” to the individual
Can you be fined for not wearing a mask?
Businesses can be fined up to $1,000 for each violation of the order if they do not "develop and implement" a health and safety policy within five days of when the order goes into effect. The order goes into effect at 6 p.m. June 26, so businesses must have their policies in place by Wednesday, July 1.
How long does the order last?
The order is in effect until 6 a.m. Monday, Aug. 3. Please note that it may be extended, modified, or ended early by Judge Whitley.
Judge Whitley’s order comes after Gov. Abbott on Monday said that COVID-19 was spreading at “an unacceptable rate” in Texas. As of Wednesday afternoon’s update, Tarrant County Public Health has recorded 9,846 positive cases of COVID-19.