AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Monday, seven Central Texas cities began the process for enacting a mask ordinance, including Round Rock, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Hutto, Taylor, Leander and Marble Falls.
The mayors in the cities of Taylor, Hutto, Round Rock, Georgetown, Leander, and Cedar Park have worked together to create the face covering requirements.
An emergency ordinance passed by the Round Rock City Council requires all residents 10 years and older to wear masks when inside a business or outside when social distancing isn’t possible.
The emergency ordinance, which remains in effect from July 1 through Aug. 28, goes further than mask orders in Travis and Hays Counties, which mandated businesses to require customers and workers wear masks, but did not require masks to be worn outside.
Under the Round Rock city charter, Mayor Craig Morgan said the city has the ability to require masks to be worn inside businesses as well as outside.
“Yeah, you always worry about that but that was never the intent of this,” Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan said. “We’re just doing everything we can to make sure that we don’t put any more burden on the hospitals and we’re hoping that the governor understands that.”
Round Rock says people who violate the order for the first time will get a spoken or written warning, but subsequent violations could result in fines between $200 and $1,000.
Gov. Greg Abbott has said Texans cannot be fined for not wearing a mask but said local governments can require businesses to require masks be worn.
Abbott said in an interview with KXAN Monday that he hadn’t read Round Rock’s order, but “if it does impose a fine for people for not wearing a mask that part seems like it would contradict my executive order.”
“That said, I do want to applaud the city of Round Rock for stepping up and being one of the many communities across the state of Texas that has now imposed a mask requirement,” Abbott said.
In May, Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to Austin and Travis County leaders calling local public health orders, which included a mask requirement, “unlawful” and “Orwellian.”
Exceptions to Round Rock mask ordinance
- When exercising or engaging in physical activity
- When in a building that requires security surveillance, like a bank
- When eating or drinking
- When wearing a mask poses a greater mental or physical risk
- When outside with a group of only members of a single household
- When other mitigation strategies, like the use of plexiglass, provides adequate separation
The Round Rock emergency ordinance puts the responsibility for compliance on individuals, not businesses, though businesses can be fined for not posting the mask requirement.
Other Central Texas cities with mask ordinances
Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross issued an order requiring employees and customers at commercial businesses to wear a face covering when social distancing cannot be maintained. This applies to all businesses that serve the public, as well as City facilities.
The order goes into effect on Friday, July 3. Mayor Ross says the order will remain in place until Williamson County reports a positive test rate of 7% or fewer over a two-week average.
Hutto’s mandatory mask ordinance requires face coverings for employees and customers at all businesses when social distancing isn’t feasible. The policy goes into effect on Wednesday, July 1.
Businesses must also implement a visible health and safety policy with the face covering requirement. Failure to implement the health and safety policy may result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation.
The City of Taylor’s order will go into effect at midnight on Wednesday, July 1, and will continue through the month of July pending a change from Taylor Mayor Brandt Rydell.
All commercial businesses must require face coverings for employees and customers when six feet of social distancing isn’t possible. The City is also requiring businesses to post its safety policy inside the facility.
In terms of punishment for failing to comply, the City says its goal is to educate and seek voluntary compliance with the ordinance.
Effective Tuesday at 12 a.m., face coverings must be worn at all times by persons over the age of two years old in public places within the City of Marble Falls.
Anyone with a medical condition preventing the wearing of a mask are exempt from the order. The requirement applies to employees, customers and clients of businesses within the City.