Hutto Mayor Doug Gaul has issued a local disaster declaration June 29 and issued a mandatory mask requirement for residents, according to a June 29 city news release.
Per the release, all businesses, including nonprofit organizations, are required to enact a health and safety policy that includes mandatory face coverings. The declaration is set to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. July 1.
“This declaration is a tool to slow the community spread of COVID-19,” Gaul said in the release. “As we start to increase necessary activities, and more people are out in the City, we have to adopt more measures to protect each other and help keep businesses open and the community moving in the right direction. Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social distancing measures, frequent hand washing and face coverings are effective at curtailing the spread of COVID-19. Mask wearing helps prevent droplets from traveling through the air when people talk, cough or sneeze, potentially infecting nearby people, per the CDC.
Per the language of the declaration, Hutto businesses and nonprofit organizations are required to develop health and safety policies that include requiring employees and visitors to wear masks.
"All businesses (including not-for-profit entities) and commercial entities in the City of Hutto must develop and implement a health and safety policy (“Health and Safety Policy”)," the declaration reads. "The Health and Safety Policy must require, at a minimum, that all employees or visitors to the commercial entity’s business premises or other facilities wear face coverings when in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public where six feet of separation is not feasible."
According to the release, health and safety policies enacted by commercial and nonprofit entities can include the implementation of additional safety measures, such as temperature checks and health screenings. Commercial businesses are required to post their health and safety policies in a location "sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements," per the release. Businesses and nonprofit organizations that do not create and enact a health and safety policy within five days of the declaration's July 1 enactment will be issued a fine not to exceed $1,000, according to the release.
“Masks are to protect others in our community, not ourselves,” Gaul said in the release. “Until we get a vaccine, this is going to be one of the best ways to protect everyone. Together, we can all do our part to protect our neighbors and community.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated following clarification from city communications officials that the term "ordinance" was incorrectly used in the headline of the city's news release. The mask requirement came as part of an emergency declaration.