Masks Mandatory in Nueces County, Corpus Christi
CORRECTION: The USS Lexington is not considered a government facility in this order. Masks are not mandatory at the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay.
A mandatory mask order goes into effect in Nueces County at midnight Friday, June 26, and continues until July 10. Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales plans to file the order June 23, she announced in a video statement late Monday, June 22. The judge worked on the order over the weekend while in self-quarantine after being exposed to a Nueces County employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
Canales cited Gov. Greg Abbott, who held his own media conference Monday about the doubling of COVID-19 cases in the state over the past week, in explaining her decision to mandate masks in some businesses and in all non-federal government buildings.
“Today, Governor Abbott said COVID-19 is spreading at an unacceptable rate and must be corralled,” Canales said. “I agree with that.”
While the governor did not mandate masks statewide, he did allow for municipalities to do so, a step Canales said would keep people healthy and businesses open.
“We recognize the need to balance freedom, especially personal freedom, but we know these measure works,” she said. “Masks protect those wearing them and the people around them. Bottom line is that masks help businesses operate more safely, and if they can operate more safely, they can stay open.”
Main highlights of the order cover the following:
• face masks are required for those ages 10 years and older and must cover both the nose and the mouth;
• masks are required inside any state-, county-, or city-owned or -operated facility within Nueces County unless social distancing of at least 6 feet apart (excepting family members) is possible;
• government facilities included in the mandatory mask order are libraries, museums (not including USS Lexington Museum on the Bay), community centers, and senior centers;
• also included are facilities of the Port of Corpus Christi, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, Nueces County Hospital District, appraisal district, Corpus Christi Independent School District administrative offices, the airport, and all water and drainage district offices;
• as well as public transportation, taxis, and ride share vehicles;
• and facial coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or handkerchiefs.
Business included as mandatory for mask wearing are:
• Texas State Aquarium
• grocery stores
• big-box stores such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, The Home Depot and Lowe's
• shopping malls and all stores within a shopping mall
Masks are recommended but not mandatory for all commercial entities not listed above, including:
• places of worship
• retail stores
• restaurants, bars
• water parks
• medical offices
• law offices
• business offices
Masks are not required for those with medicals conditions that would make it unsafe.
Also included in the order, businesses must post at entrances and exits a health and safety plan. Details and fines are included in the order as well. However, no civil or criminal penalties will be imposed on anyone failing to wear a face covering.
Businesses can be fined $1,000 per violation.
“In the strongest terms possible, it is recommended that Nueces County residents continue to maintain social distancing of at least six feet of separation from all others (indoors and outdoors),” reads Item 8 of the order. “Face coverings do not need to be worn when engaging in outdoor activity, riding alone or with members of the same household in a personal vehicle, or when consuming food or drink. Face coverings do not need to be worn when social distancing of at least six feet is observed.”
Canales signed the order late Monday after the county health department reported 109 new COVID-19 cases for that day. The total number of cases now stands at 742. Of those, 28 are currently in the hospital with 11 in intensive care. Six have died, three of them in the past week.
“I believe this order balances the health and safety of our citizens and the need to keep our economy open,” Canales said in her video message. “By making it mandatory for these types of businesses, it makes it fair for all businesses.”
To follow the latest news on COVID-19 in Corpus Christi, check the Corpus Christi Business News' COVID-19 Resource Page.
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