Effective midnight on June 30, face coverings will be required in most public spaces within the city of Round Rock.
With a unanimous vote, Round Rock City Council approved an emergency ordinance under the city charter. This differs from an executive order as authorized by Chapter 418 under the Texas Government Code, said Steve Sheets, attorney for the city.
"While this [emergency ordinance] is similar, it is a totally separate and different procedure that does not depend upon the action of the governor or the county judge."
Through the action taken today, the council declared a public health emergency, outlined provisions requiring mandatory face coverings, required a notice to be posted by commercial entities at the entrance of their business, and defined penalties for failure to comply.
"I was hoping that we’d never have to get to this point," said Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan. "It’s nothing that any of us have taken lightly. But the data clearly shows that hospitalizations are on the rise in Williamson County and in Round Rock."
Morgan, and members of the council, stressed unity in working to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
"We all should play a part in this for the health of our citizens and our business community," Morgan said. “We are doing what we think is right for Round Rock. This is not to be heavy-handed. But we all expect our citizens to do their part."
For council member Matt Baker, the key issue is hospital capacity.
“If we stay on the current trajectory, our hospitals are going to be nearing capacity in a number of days,” Baker said.
Council members Hilda Montgomery and Tammy Young both echoed Baker's concerns and stressed the importance of wearing a mask.
"I believe that masks do work," Montgomery said. "I think that it’s the right thing to do whatever we can to protect our citizens."
For council member Will Peckham, keeping businesses afloat amid the pandemic is critical.
"The thing that is not going to be easy is if we have to start shutting down businesses again," Peckham said. "We’ve got to get through this in the short term, help our businesses stay open along with those they employ."
The mayor concluded his thoughts with a call for unity.
"I’m asking the community to come together during this tough, tough time not only for our own health but for the health of our community," Morgan said.
ORIGINAL STORY: June 29 at 10:32 a.m.
Round Rock City Council will meet at noon June 29 to consider an emergency ordinance requiring face coverings.
The ordinance, if approved, would apply to individuals age 10 and older in public places when adequate social distancing is not possible. The ordinance also stipulates businesses must display a notice of the requirement.
These measures are intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to a city news release. The city of Round Rock has experienced an increase in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the past month.
“It’s important that we take immediate action to slow the dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases in our area,” Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan said in the release. “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.”
If approved, the ordinance would become effective at 11:59 p.m. June 30, and continue through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 28.
The first violation would result in a verbal or written warning, per the release. Additional violations could result in fines between $200 and $1,000.
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 strategies, such as plexiglass, provide adequate separation
More information is available here.
This is a developing story and will be updated when more information is available.