Williamson County judge: ‘Common sense’ means wearing masks, but will not require businesses to enforce

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said he will not require businesses to force customers to wear masks. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said he will not require businesses to force customers to wear masks. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said he will not require businesses to force customers to wear masks. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said he deems wearing a mask and social distancing as “common sense.”

During the June 16 county Commissioners Court meeting, the judge and commissioners stated they had no intention to close businesses again even as confirmed cases in the county and surrounding counties continue to rise. Instead, they will continue to push for the community to use common-sense practices surrounding the coronavirus.

As of June 18, the county had 1,114 confirmed cases and 32 deaths with 294 cases added from the week prior.

In the meeting, Gravell said the county would not react by reinstating closures but through common sense. He told Community Impact Newspaper he believed wearing a mask in public and maintaining 6 feet of distance fell under the label of "common sense."

“What I really want to encourage folks to do is when you go out in public you need to wear a mask. That's just common sense. You need to social distance. That's just common sense,” he said.


Gravell, however, said he would not make it mandatory for businesses to require customers to wear a mask while inside their business enforced through a $1,000 fine on the violating business, similar to what is being done in Bexar, Hays and Travis counties and the city of Austin, after they saw a significant spike in cases in recent weeks.

He said he did not believe in fining businesses that are already struggling to stay open, particularly since as of June 18 the county’s small-business grant program, Wilco Forward, had already distributed more than $30.4 million in grant checks to help area small businesses stay afloat.

Williamson County shut down nonessential businesses March 24-April 30 with its “Stay Home Stay Safe” order. Businesses to varying degrees began to open up May 1 and have since reached 50% to 75% capacity allowance through Gov. Greg Abbott's state orders.

“We shut down the businesses because of the information and knowledge he had at the time. And it was the right decision. And it did save lives,” Gravell said. “[But] to order people wear masks? What did we do, just give out $30 million so businesses can use it to pay fines?”
By Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.


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