Hutcheson Bowers Attorneys at Law in Austin

Hutcheson Bowers LLLP Attorneys at Law

Local Texas Mask Laws

Late last week, Texas Governor Abbott signaled his approval that cities and counties could require and enforce via fines businesses to require masks. Many Texas cities and counties responded by immediately passing such orders. In short, businesses within major metropolitan areas in Texas, which provide goods or services directly to the public, must immediately draft and post a policy that requires all employees and customers to wear masks or be subject to fines. Travis, Dallas, and Harris Counties have all issued such orders. Please check your local government authority for orders that apply to the county or city in which you do business. Also, stay tuned to see if these orders are expanded.

Most of these orders are very similar but they vary in the amount of fine and the effective dates. The El Paso order is a bit different in substance and is the broadest. 

Here is a summary:

Travis County

The Travis County order requires all commercial entities that provide goods or services directly to the public to develop and implement a health and safety policy. The policy must require all employees and visitors to wear face coverings when in an area which will involve close contact or where six feet of separation is not feasible. Businesses must post the policy. The order lasts through August 15. Failure to develop and implement this policy before June 23 may result in $1000 fine. A sample policy is provided by the order.

Note that the City of Austin has also issued an order, which does not have a fine associated with it. But all businesses with the City of Austin are subject to the Travis County order. 

Bexar County

The Bexar County order is effective June 17 through June 30. Under this order, all commercial entities in Bexar County providing goods or services directly to the public must develop and implement a health and safety policy. The policy must require, at a minimum, that all employees or visitors to the commercial entity’s business premises or other facilities 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 six feet of separation is not feasible. Commercial entities must post the Health and Safety Policy in a conspicuous location 

Failure to develop and implement the Health and Safety Policy within five calendar days following the Effective Date may result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation.

Hays County

The Hays County order is effective as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 22, 2020 and continuing through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, July 20, 2020. Under this order, all commercial entities in Hays County providing goods or services directly to the public must develop and implement a health and safety policy. The policy must require that all employees or visitors to the commercial entity’s business premises or other facilities 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 six feet of separation is not feasible. Commercial entities must post the Health and Safety Policy in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements.

There is no fine assessed under this order at this time.

Dallas County

The Dallas County Order is similar to those discussed above. It was passed Friday, June 19, 2020. There is a $500 fine for non-compliance. Businesses must comply within 5 days or face fines. The order expires August 4.

Harris County

The Harris County Order is similar to those discussed above. It is effective June 22- June 30. Children under 10 are exempt. There is a $1000 fine.

Hidalgo and Cameron Counties also have issued similar orders to those discussed above.

El Paso County

The El Paso County Order is effective as of June 22, 2020. There is a $500 fine for non-compliance. All businesses in the City of El Paso must develop and implement a health and safety policy.  All businesses must require employees, including volunteers, to have a face covering when either in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public, where six feet of separation from other individuals is not feasible. All businesses must require that all visitors, to include contractors and vendors, wear face coverings while on the business’s premises

Covered businesses include any for-profit, non-profit, or educational entities, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or its corporate or entity structure.

Gyms  and  exercise  establishments  must  require  all  individuals  inside  of  the  business establishment  to wear a face covering at all times except for when an individual is actively engaging in exercise.


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