The Round Rock City Council unanimously approved Monday, June 29, an Emergency Ordinance requiring face coverings for individuals age 10 and older in public places when adequate social distancing is not possible to slow the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance also requires businesses to display a notice of the requirement.
The ordinance is in response to a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Round Rock over the past month.
“It’s important that we take immediate action to slow the dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases in our area,” Mayor Craig Morgan said. “While we are beginning to see more residents following health officials’ recommendations to wear masks, the goal of this emergency ordinance is to ensure everyone is doing their part to keep our businesses open and our community moving in the right direction.”
Mayor Morgan emphasized face coverings and social distancing requirements as well as hygiene recommendations are strongly supported by healthcare providers serving the Round Rock community.
“As the number of COVID-19 cases in Williamson County continues to climb, it’s critical that businesses and residents adhere to guidelines put in place by local health authorities in order to slow the spread of the virus,” said Jeremy Barclay, chief executive officer of St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center. “Wearing a mask when you are with people who aren’t part of your household, practicing good hand hygiene and maintaining a safe social distance from others have proven effective in preventing illness. This is particularly important when inside enclosed spaces, such as businesses.”
In addition to the public health concern, Mayor Morgan said keeping already hard-hit small businesses open is a priority. He noted Round Rock residents’ top concern about COVID-19 was the impact to the local economy, according to the results of an online City survey conducted in April.
Approval of the ordinance required a super majority of affirmative votes by the Council, according to Section 3.14 of the City Charter. The ordinance goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, and continues through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 28, 2020.
A first time violation of the ordinance will result in a verbal or written warning. The original ordinance stated that ensuing violations were punishable by fines starting at $200 and escalating up to $1,000. On Thursday, July 9, City Council amended the ordinance to state that, after receiving a warning, anyone violating the ordinance would be subject to a fine of $200 for each violation.
The requirement to wear face coverings does not apply to the following situations:
- When exercising or engaging in physical activity
- When in a building or participating in an activity that requires security surveillance or screening, such as banks
- While consuming food or drink
- When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk
- When outside with a group of only members of a single household
- When other mitigation strategy, such as plexiglass, provides adequate separation