What you need to know about the mandatory face-covering rules in San Antonio, Bexar County

Coronavirus update from San Antonio Mayor Nirenberg, Bexar County Judge Wolff 4/16/20

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s Note: Watch the entire briefing in the video player above. Newsletter recipients can click here to access the video.

UPDATE: The city of San Antonio sent an email to KSAT around 9:50 p.m. Thursday, stating the date when face coverings would be mandatory would be changed to April 20. This story has been updated to reflect the date change.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff updated the community about the local response to COVID-19 in their daily briefing Thursday night.

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Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Nirenberg reported 918 COVID-19 cases and 37 deaths in Bexar County, as of Thursday. He said 76 patients are in the hospital, 51 are in intensive care, 30 are on ventilators and 176 have recovered. Thirty-nine cases are under investigation. The county has 76% of ventilators available and 40% of beds available.
  • The county and city emergency orders have been updated to require all people over the age of 10 years old to wear cloth face coverings in public areas where social distancing is not possible by April 20. The city said businesses also have until April 20 to provide personal protective equipment and training for appropriate use for their employees. Anyone violating any part of the city or county ordinances faces a civil penalty of $1,000, Nirenberg said.
  • The mayor’s office is asking people to not wear surgical masks or N-95 respirators since they are a needed resources for health care providers and first responders. The public is able to use homemade cloth masks, scarfs, bandanas or handkerchiefs as face coverings, as long as they cover your mouth and nose. ,
  • Face coverings are not required under the following circumstances:
    • 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;
    • When 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 engaged in an activity that requires security surveillance or screening, like at banks;
    • While consuming food or drink
  • The mayor’s office emphasized that the face masks are not a replacement for social distancing, frequent hand-washing and self-isolation if you are sick. Everyone is required to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on how to properly wear a mask and take it off.
  • Nirenberg and Wolff also said all essential businesses are now required to only allow 25% of their Certificate of Occupancy limit inside their establishments. The businesses are required to post the applicable maximum occupancy under the emergency declarations.
  • Essential businesses that have reached their maximum occupancy, or expect to reach it, must post staff at establishment entrances and exits to ensure compliance with the occupancy limit, the city said.
  • Nirenberg and Wolff also announced the creation of the COVID-19 Health Transition Team, which will develop a plan to move the city and county out of social distancing, while following guidance from health experts. The team is charged with developing a transition plan by April 27.
  • The leaders are urging the public to fill out the 2020 census.
  • The addendum made to the order also said while municipal golf courses will remain closed, private courses can operate if there are no equipment rentals, caddies or other personnel involved and social distancing guidelines are maintained. Private courses may continue using groundskeepers and can sell food if consistent with restaurant rules.

WATCH: SA golf courses reopening

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

ADDENDUM TO STAY HOME, WORK SAFE ORDER (Newsletter subscribers, click here to view.)


About the Author

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and KSAT.com includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.

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