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Dallas County Has A New Indoor Mask Mandate. Here's What You Need To Know.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins
Christopher Connelly
/
KERA News

Effective at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, masks are required indoors at all public schools, child care centers, businesses and buildings in Dallas County. That's after Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins singed a new order Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Teachers, staff, students and visitors to child care centers and pre-K through 12 schools in Dallas County are required to wear masks. Schools may also develop additional requirements such as maintaining at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms.

  • All commercial entities including stores, bars and restaurants in Dallas County or business providing goods or services directly to the public must develop a health and safety policy that includes mask wearing indoors. There is a fine of up to $1,000 if the order is violated.
  • Masks are required in all Dallas County government buildings.
  • Jenkins is also encouraging Dallas County residents to wear a mask in public.

Jenkins is the latest official to defy Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on local mask mandates. And Dallas County is the second Texas county to require masks in the classroom as the school year is set to begin.
“Unfortunately others, in our case Gov. Abbott have politicized this, masking public health and vaccination when there really is no politics here," Jenkins said. "The virus doesn’t care.”

Jenkins said he felt it was necessary to take this step to protect county residents from the spike of COVID-19 delta variant cases and expects his order will almost surely be challenged by state officials.

The decision comes after a judge issued a temporary restraining order this week over-riding Abbott’s executive orderbanning mask mandates. Abbott has already filed a petition asking an appellate court to strike down the order.

“This is for all of us, we are all team public health and the enemy is the virus — and right now the enemy is winning,” Jenkins said. “It is so much better when we work together than when we’re alone.”

The county judge said he received input from retailers associations, restaurants associations, chambers of commerce and school district superintendents when crafting the mask order.

Many school districts including Dallas ISD, Richardson ISD, Mesquite ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Cedar Hill ISD, Duncanville ISD, DeSoto ISD and Lancaster ISD have agreed to enforce mask mandates.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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Updated: August 11, 2021 at 5:54 PM CDT
After Clay Jenkins announced Dallas County's new mask mandate, Gov. Greg Abbott filed a petition asking an appellate court to strike it down. This story's been updated to include that.