AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, June 18, both Travis and Hays counties issued new orders requiring people to wear face coverings in some areas.
The Travis County order states that all businesses that provide goods or services to the public must create and implement a "health and safety policy" relating to COVID-19. At a minimum, these policies must require that people in the business must wear face coverings when in areas where 6 feet of separation is not possible.
Failure to develop a policy outlined by the order could result in a $1,000 fine per each violation. This order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday and runs through 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 15, unless otherwise changed.
The order in Hays County has a similar "health and safety policy" requirement but does not implement a fine for violations. Additionally, the Hays County order requires all people ages 10 and older to wear a face-covering when in a public place where social distancing is difficult.
The Hays County order said that face coverings do not need to be worn in the following situations:
- When exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside
- While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver
- When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk
- While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment
- While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, for example, banks
- When consuming food or drink
The Hays County order goes into effect on June 22 and is set to expire on July 20.
The key difference between the two orders is enforcement. In Travis County, businesses could be fined $1,000 for not complying with the order, while in Hays County, no such fine is written in the order.
In the City of Austin, people can report a business they may think is in violation by calling 3-1-1. Austin Code will then reach out to the business regarding that complaint. If the business has a second offense, Austin Code will dispatch to the business to check if they are in compliance. If not, a fine of $1,000 per day will be issued until the business complies.
If a business has a patron who is unwilling to abide by the order, it can ask the individual to leave. If they refuse, the business can call 3-1-1. Austin police will then respond and, if the individual still refuses to leave, the person will be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.
Both orders continue to extend local disaster declarations and public health emergencies for the counties.
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