In consultation with other mayors in Williamson County and out of growing concerns about the increase in COVID-19 cases in the community and the increasing number of those hospitalized and in the ICU, Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross issued an order June 29 to impose additional requirements on businesses.

Employees and customers at commercial businesses should begin wearing face coverings immediately, a news release said. Starting Friday, July 3, businesses in Georgetown will be required to adopt and enforce health plans that require face coverings for visitors and staff when physical distance cannot be maintained. This applies to all commercial businesses that directly serve the public, as well as to all city facilities.

The order will remain in place until Williamson County reports a positive test rate of 7% or fewer over a two-week average, the release said, adding the Georgetown order is similar to those in other Williamson County cities, including Round Rock, Hutto, Taylor, Leander, and Cedar Park.

The order states that, at a minimum, businesses must require all employees and visitors age 10 or older to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. The order allows for a few exemptions, which are as follows.

  • When exercising or engaging in physical activity outside

  • While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver

  • When wearing a mask poses a mental or physical health, safety, or security risk

  • While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment

  • While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, like a bank

  • When consuming food or drink

Businesses may also implement other measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as temperature checks or health screenings, the release said.

The order states businesses must post the health and safety policy or plan in a location where employees and visitors can see it.

These orders apply to commercial businesses and city facilities. Exemptions from this order include other governmental agencies, such as federal buildings, state offices and school districts; construction activity; and places of worship. However, all entities are encouraged to voluntarily adopt similar requirements.

“We know masks help against the spread of COVID-19, and that is our top priority now,” Mayor Ross said in the release. “The state and Williamson County have left this decision up to local jurisdictions. My fellow Williamson County mayors and I are not taking this step lightly. However, based on recommendations from the local health authority, we know it is our best shot to ensure the collective safety of all county residents while allowing businesses to continue to operate.”

Ross said the large number of vulnerable people in Georgetown must be considered.

“Here, we are a family,” he said. “We care about one another. No matter our differences, we always show up to support one another. Wearing a mask and keeping our distance when we’re out in public is a small price to pay to show we love and care for our neighbors.”

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to facilitate economic success for our community, Chamber President Jim Johnson said in the release, and the chamber believes Ross took the necessary step to help protect the community, prevent another shut down and ensure our businesses can be successful moving forward.

“Many businesses in Georgetown already require masks, physical distancing and other safety requirements,” he said. “This order makes those practices standard across all facilities and supports our local business owners, their employees and their efforts to keep Georgetown safe and open for business.

Individuals who believe the order is being violated by a business in Georgetown can report it to the Georgetown Police Department’s non-emergency number: 512-930-3510. Businesses found to be in violation of the order will be given a citation and fined up to $1,000 per offense.

If a business has a customer who is unwilling to abide by the order, the business can ask the individual to leave. If they refuse to leave, the business can call 911. Georgetown police will respond, and if the individual still refuses to leave, the individual may be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.