FREDERICKSBURG, Texas (KXAN) — Gillespie County is reporting more than triple the amount of COVID-19 cases compared to two weeks ago.

According to new numbers released Tuesday afternoon by the Department of State Health Services, the county now has a total of 39 positive cases since the pandemic began, and 24 of those are active cases.

Two weeks ago, when Gillespie County only had a total of nine COVID-19 cases, County Judge Mark Stroeher told KXAN Investigators he was concerned the numbers would be going up due to a lack of social distancing and masks among locals, and especially tourists visiting the popular Main Street shopping area.

At the time, he said the majority of businesses were not requiring customers to wear masks. KXAN spotted some store employees not wearing masks while looking for business owners to interview about the issue.

But that is all about to change.

On Monday, the city of Fredericksburg made the decision to mandate masks for all commercial businesses that sell directly to the public. Those businesses are also required to develop and implement a health and safety policy.

The policy must require, at a minimum, that all employees and visitors wear face coverings when they will be in close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public and where six feet of separation is not possible.  

“The intent of this supplemental order is two-fold — to slow the community spread of COVID-19 AND to keep businesses open,” said Mayor Gary Neffendorf in a statement on the city’s website. “State and local health officials feel that enacting such a requirement will ‘change the trajectory of the COVID-19 curve’. All citizens and visitors can do their part by social distancing, thorough hand washing, wearing a mask, and staying at home when possible. We must continue to support local businesses, and we look forward to the day when all businesses can reopen.”

The full order can be found here on the city’s website.

The order is effective immediately, but businesses have until July 6 to develop and implement a health and safety plan. 

All persons 10 years of age or older shall wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in a public place where it is difficult to keep six feet away from other people or working in areas that involve close proximity with other people or co-workers.  

The following situations do not require masks in the city of Fredericksburg:

  • When exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside
  • While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver
  • While doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk
  • While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment
  • While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, for example, banks
  • When consuming food or drink

The regulations in the emergency order will remain in effect until August 10, 2020, unless extended, modified, or terminated by the City Council, or if superseded by the County Judge or Governor of Texas.