Dallas County to Tell Businesses to Make People Wear Masks

Emergency meeting Friday

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Dallas County has a new approach to get people to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The plan will pass muster with Governor Greg Abbott, but some businesses and county officials may not like it.

The governor said local governments may not order people to wear masks after Dallas County and the City of Dallas tried to do so earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.

But now the Governor has said a provision in his orders allows local governments to order businesses to tell people to wear masks, by refusing service to customers without face coverings.

“We’re finally going to be able to do that again after the Governor stopped us from doing it last month,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

Jenkins has ordered an emergency meeting of Dallas County Commissioners Friday.

Odyssey Pets on Preston Road at Beltline Road in North Dallas was a leader in promoting face covering when businesses first reopened after the initial stay at home orders.

The store’s owners went on social media asking customers to cooperate. They posted signs at the entrance seeking compliance.

“This is how we protect each other. It's not going to protect me unless you are wearing a mask,” owner Mike Doan said.

In April, Doan said around 4 out of 5 customers complied with the mask request but less than half of them do.

Still, he is not enthusiastic about enforcing the proposed new rules.

“I can’t see us challenging people to the point where we start creating animosity for our business. We’re just not going to do that. We put the signs up. We encourage people to do it. If somebody comes in my store and they’re not wearing a mask, that’s ok. We’re not here to be the mask police. We’re here simply just to make sure that people’s pets are healthy,” Doan said.

Bexar County and the City of Austin have already taken the step Dallas County will consider Friday.

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said he will vote against making business require masks.

“Let the market place decide,” Price said. “I’m not going to be on that side that says, businesses, you’ve got to do this. I’ll let you decide.”

Many of past votes on coronavirus restrictions at Dallas County Commissioners Court have split 3 to 2 with Commissioners Price and J.J. Koch opposing mandatory rules.

Koch declined comment Thursday. 

Commissioners Elba Garcia and Theresa Daniel said they want to see more people wearing masks but will wait to see details of the proposed plan Friday.

“I definitely support the use of masks,” Daniel said.

Price said he agrees that more people should be wearing masks

“I think people have become a lot more careless, I agree. They don’t make their observation of 6-foot distancing,” Price said.

Still, Price only wants to encourage compliance.

Pet store owner Doan said he supports masks, too, but does not like this idea.

“It's very uncomfortable, obviously, we don't want to be in this position. We just want folks to take care of each other,” he said.

The special meeting Dallas County Commissioners is set for 8:30 a.m. Friday.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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