The orders reflect additional restrictions authorized by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on July 2, according to a news release. The governor’s orders also prohibit outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people at a time without mayoral approval.
Georgetown’s revised order expands upon previous requirements for commercial businesses to adopt and post health and safety policies requiring masks in the premises whenever physical distancing of six feet is not possible. Businesses still must adopt and publicly post health and safety policies by July 3. Those policies can include additional restrictions, such as taking temperatures, at the business’s discretion, the release said.
The Georgetown order will remain in place until Williamson County reports a positive test rate of 7% or fewer over a two-week average. The Georgetown order is similar to those in other Williamson County cities, including Round Rock, Hutto, Taylor, Leander and Cedar Park, the release said.
“It was great to learn Governor Abbott has joined me and other mayors in Central Texas in acknowledging the importance of requiring masks so we can slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and across the state,” Ross said in the release. “With these new orders, the governor has used good judgement in giving more authority back to local officials, who have the best view into how this pandemic is affecting our fellow neighbors. In these dangerous times, we have to be able to act quickly to protect our communities. The city council, staff and I are committed to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of the good people of Georgetown.”
The release said face coverings do not substitute for the need to maintain physical distancing. Face coverings, combined with physical distancing, decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19.
While the city will prioritize education, both the state and local orders allow for fines to be assessed for violations, the release said.
Individuals who believe the orders are being violated by individuals or businesses in Georgetown can report it to the Georgetown Police Department’s non-emergency number: 512-930-3510.
Businesses found in violation of the order, including failure to post a health and safety policy, may be given a citation and fined up to $1,000 per offense. Individuals found in violation will be given a verbal warning upon first offense, and a fine of up to $250 per additional violation.
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 the police department’s non-emergency number and officers will respond. No one can be jailed for violating mask orders, but if an individual who refused to wear a mask refuses to leave, the individual may be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.