New Bexar County executive order mandates face coverings at all businesses when social distancing is not possible

Gov. Abbott allows new approach, spokesman says order "not inconsistent" with Abbott's executive order

SAN ANTONIO – Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced the return of mask requirements to Bexar County on Wednesday.

Wolff issued a new executive order mandating “all commercial entities providing goods and services” must implement a health and safety policy within five days. The policy “must require, at a minimum, that all employees or visitors ... wear face coverings when in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involved close contact,” according to the new order.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued an addendum to his latest declaration of public health emergency that adopts and supports Wolff’s order.

Businesses who fail to follow the order can be fined by $1,000. Though individuals are also required to wear masks, they will not face any punishment if they don’t. Wolff’s order is in effect until June 30.

H-E-B officials explain why they stopped making masks mandatory

There was a question at first over whether Gov. Greg Abbott, who previously ordered that “no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering,” would push back against the approach.

“The action I’m taking today may be pushing the legal bounds a little bit but our attorneys believe they can defend this order in court,” Wolff said.

If the issue ends up in court, it does not appear it will be at the behest of the governor. Abbott spokesman John Wittman said Wednesday Wolff’s new order “is not inconsistent with the Governor’s executive order.”

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