Whitley announced June 25 that wearing a face mask will be required in all Tarrant County businesses. A countywide executive order will go into effect at 6 p.m. June 26 and will remain in effect through 6 a.m. Aug. 3.
The order will also apply to outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more, Whitley said.
“Our goal is not to throw people in jail or write citations,” he said. “It’s to get as many folks as we can to start wearing masks.”
Whitley equated the new face mask requirement to laws mandating seat belt use or prohibiting smoking in public, which were primarily initiated to protect other people, he said.
With the new face mask requirement, the county is asking residents to be “considerate and respectful” to hopefully slow the spread of the virus, Whitley said.
Across the state, Texas health officials confirmed a record-high 5,551 new COVID-19 cases June 24, which Gov. Greg Abbott described as a “massive outbreak.” At the county level, there are more than 37,000 confirmed cases in North Texas, including more than 18,000 cases in Dallas County and more than 9,800 confirmed cases in Tarrant County.
“This is one step on the path to hopefully not putting in further restrictions,” Whitley said. “We feel like we can stop the spike we’ve seen over the last several days.”
According to the executive order, all Tarrant County businesses that provide goods or services must implement a “Health and Safety Policy” that, at minimum, requires all employees and customers to wear face coverings. Businesses that do not comply with the order within five business days may be fined up to $1,000.
“Our goal ... is to hopefully get voluntary compliance,” Whitley said. “We want people wearing masks.”
In addition, the executive order allows city entities within Tarrant County to establish their own ordinances requiring face masks. This gives cities within the county a tool “by which they can react” if residents are fighting mask use, Whitley said.
“It’s not comfortable, and it’s not cool [to wear a mask], but COVID-19 is not comfortable and not cool,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. “Do it for someone you love.”