SAN ANTONIO – A new face mask policy designed to curb the spike in COVID-19 cases is now in effect in Bexar County.
Monday marked the first day of the policy that mandates businesses to implement a health and safety policy, which requires face coverings for employees and visitors.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced the new policy Wednesday as San Antonio entered its second wave of the coronavirus.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg also issued an addendum to his latest declaration of public health emergency that is in line with Wolff’s order.
He is asking businesses to take the “Greater, SAfer, Together” pledge that commits to mitigation efforts. Those efforts include using face coverings, practicing social distancing, conducting temperature checks, providing hand sanitizer and implementing contactless payment.
Bexar County recorded a daily high in cases on Sunday, when 538 new patients were added to the tally, bringing the number of total cases to 6,882. The death toll stands at 97.
Here’s what to know about the face-covering mandate going forward.
- All businesses must require all employees and customers wear face coverings “when in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public” where social distancing isn’t possible.
- Businesses had until Monday, June 22, to post their health and safety policies.
- The health and safety policy may also include other measures that help stunt the spread of COVID-19, including temperature checks or health screenings.
- Businesses must post their policies in a “conspicuous location” to showcase requirements to staff and guests.
- Wolff’s new order is in effect through 11:59 p.m. June 30, unless extended, modified or terminated early.
- Face coverings include homemade masks, bandanas, scarfs or handkerchiefs.
- Businesses that do not follow the order can be fined up to $1,000 for each violation.
- While individuals are required to wear face coverings, they will not be punished if they don’t.
- Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said during a news conference last week that deputies would be instructed to “take every means possible before issuing a citation,” including verbal citations. “We’re not trying to issue a whole bunch of fines, we’re just trying to get people to help keep our community safe,” Salazar said.
- People 10 years of age or older should wear a face covering when unable to keep six feet away from others or in workplaces that require close proximity to coworkers.
- Face coverings do not need to be worn while exercising, driving alone or with passengers of the same household, getting gas, and eating or drinking.
- People also do not need face coverings when there’s a greater risk for mental or physical health or safety.
- The orders also state people do not need to wear a mask when in a building that requires security surveillance, such as banks.
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