When visiting or working at businesses deemed essential or when riding public transportation, Dallas County residents must now wear some form of face covering, County Judge Clay Jenkins announced today.
The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 17 and requires covering a person’s nose and mouth.
Dallas County joins several other counties in Texas in this requirement: Travis, Bastrop, Willacy, and Hidalgo along with several cities.
Jenkins stated that residents need not wear a face covering when riding in their cars nor when exercising in their neighborhoods.
Jenkins justified his decision by saying it would “help speed things up while protecting” residents. He said they were adding this requirement “not because things are getting worse, but hopefully so we can get this over with faster.”
When asked to quantify the benefit that adding the face-covering would have, Jenkins could not.
He said that public health officials recommended the requirement, believing it will help curtail the spread from asymptomatic carriers.
“Don’t think of this as an abridgment of your freedoms,” Jenkins remarked.
He pulled out multiple items at the press conference that he said would suffice as a face covering including a Cowboys scarf, a pillowcase, and a towel.
While he says the police won’t be enforcing the order, Jenkins did say that stores will have the right to refuse service to anyone not wearing the required face covering.
Jenkins issued the order without consulting the Dallas County Commissioners Court.
At the meeting on April 7, the commissioners voted to require three hours notice by email before any further restrictions are placed on essential businesses in Dallas County.
Neither Commissioner J.J. Koch nor Commissioner John Wiley Price received notice that Jenkins planned to enact the face-covering requirement.
“It is my understanding that he believes he did not have to consult with us because his is merely extending a directive of the Governor. I do not agree with that interpretation of our order,” Koch told The Texan. Koch is unaware of any such order by Governor Abbott.
Price was also troubled by Jenkins’ enacting the new restriction without consulting the commissioners court.
“He must not have read the minutes of the last meeting,” Price told The Texan. He plans to call an emergency meeting on Friday.
When Koch and Price were asked whether they agreed with the order, both were concerned that it was not tied to allowing businesses to reopen.
Koch said, “If this is a part of opening non-essential businesses then I’m happy to consider it.”
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.