T. Maxwell Smith, PLLC
Tarrant County to Mandate Face Coverings in All Businesses; Effective June 26th
Updated: Jun 27, 2020
This article is not to be considered legal advice. It refers specifically to issues regarding the law of Tarrant County, Texas at the time it was written, it is not guaranteed to be an exhaustive update of all COVID-19 related law, and it is subject to change. This blog is based on information provided by the Office of the Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley on June 25, 2020. Your City or State may have additional orders that you are subject to. Visit your City, State, and County websites or give me a call at (817) 475-5522 for more information. The Tarrant County Judge's Order dictates that, “From the date of this Executive Order, all entities in Tarrant County providing goods or services directly to the public must develop and implement a health and safety policy (“Health and Safety Policy”). Entities must post the Health and Safety Policy required by this Executive Order in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements.” (emphasis added). It goes further to grant businesses the power to implement further measures for disease control such as medical screenings and temperature checks. Tarrant County businesses should, at minimum, post and implement the Example Health and Safety Policy (which can be seen below) as suggested in the County Judge’s Order to ensure compliance and avoid potential fines. The order mandates masks in businesses and shops but it does not stop there. It also orders that individuals must wear masks at certain times when they are in public areas. It states that, "Other than the exceptions specifically provided in the executive orders of Governor Greg Abbott, individuals in areas open to the public where social distancing is not feasible and where it is estimated that 100 people or more are present, are required to wear masks." The order goes on to include a provision which strongly urges all people 10 years of age and older to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth when in areas open to the public. This guidance echoes the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) advice of face coverings to be worn by those for people 2 years or older. Thankfully, the order finally provides some guidance as to what constitutes a Face Covering. It states that, “Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandannas, or a handkerchief.” Although this order does specifically include them, it presumably permits the use of disposable N95, dust, and medical / surgical masks which have been commonly used in previous months. There is also an exception included in the order which is stated as such: “The requirement of a face covering does not apply if covering of the nose and mouth poses a significant mental or physical health risk, or when an individual is consuming food or beverage, or that individual is receiving service where, wearing the face mask would impair the performance of the service.”
The bottom line here is that, regardless of your feelings on the issue, this Countywide mask policy will go into effect today at 5:00 p.m. It may be inconvenient or frustrating for your employees to maintain compliance with the new mandated Health and Safety Policy but it is just something that is going to have to be done. The ultimate goal of these mask policies is obviously an attempt to avoid renewed lockdown orders and wearing masks is certainly a far less disruptive option. If you have any questions regarding these orders do not hesitate to give me a call at (817) 475-5522.
Example Health and Safety Policy
(from Tarrant County)
The virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or no symptoms. Because of the hidden nature of this threat, it is the policy of this business to require the following:
1. FACE COVERING REQUIRED IN ORDER TO ENTER AND REMAIN ON PREMISES. All persons over the age of ten (10), including employees, customers, visitors, invitees and contractors ("Patrons"), who enter this business must wear a face covering over their no
se and mouth, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief.
• The requirement of a face covering does not apply if covering the nose and mouth poses a significant mental or physical health risk to the individual.
• The requirement of a face covering also does not apply when an individual is consuming a food or beverage or receiving a service where the wearing of a mask would impair the performance of the service.
2. SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCOLS. Even with the use of appropriate face coverings, individuals should maintain six feet of social distancing whenever possible.
• Employees should not work within six (6) feet of one another, except to the extent necessary to provide services.
• Patrons should maintain six (6) feet of separation from other individuals outside
their household, to the extent feasible when inside the business premises.
• Patrons of the business queuing or waiting inside or on the premises of the business must maintain six (6) feet of separation from other individuals outside their household.
3. VIOLATIONS. Patrons who do not wear a face covering will be asked to leave the premises and will not be provided goods or services until the face covering requirements are followed.
4. NOTICE AND SIGNAGE. Notice of this Health and Safety Policy will be posted in a conspicuous location of the business.
The full order of the Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley can be found here:
Business legal issues, in the best of times, can be tricky to navigate and circumstances can vary from case to case. If you are feeling like you are in over your head on this one or would just like some more information regarding the new COVID-19 laws, do not hesitate to give me a call at (817) 475-5522.