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New Order Requires Face Masks In Dallas County Businesses

Tamara Owsley wipes down life jackets at the city-owned waterpark in Grand Prairie on May 29.
LM Otero
Associated Press
Tamara Owsley wipes down life jackets at the city-owned waterpark in Grand Prairie on May 29.

Starting at 11:59 p.m. Friday, businesses in Dallas County must require all customers and employees to wear face masks.

In an emergency session Friday morning, county commissioners voted 3-2 on an orderrequiring masks when entering businesses.

Elba Garcia, Theresa Daniel and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins voted in favor of the order. J.J. Koch and John Wiley Price voted against it.

Garcia stated her support hinged on the fact that police wouldn't be involved.

"I understand that what we want to is to give the message that it is mandatory for everyone, and I'm willing to work with you guys, but there is no way that I am going to support law enforcement intervention in any of this," Garcia said.

An order issued in April intially allowed for people to be fined, although that was modified. In the order issued Friday, people won't be fined, but businesses that don’t comply could face up to a $500 fine per incident.

Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week stated county judges can issue a mandate on masks in response to a declared emergency. Despite that, Koch said in his dissenting vote that he doesn't think a fine is appropriate.

"There is no way this is enforceable when it gets to a court," Koch said. "And right now, it disproportionally is going to affect those small businesses. The big businesses will know how to play the game, the small ones will get hurt."

Friday's order follows a rise of positive cases of COVID-19 in Dallas County, including a single-day high for the county of 413 cases on Wednesday. So far, more than 300 people have died countywide.

Dallas County remains under a local disaster declaration until early August.

Video: Learn how to make a mask

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.