A closer look at enforcement for new local face mask rules

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 5:59 PM CDT
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College Station’s mandatory mask order is now in effect while Bryan and Brazos County’s start just after midnight Tuesday morning.

In early June, Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting local governments to force people to wear masks, but he’s recently cleared the way to penalize businesses that didn’t require them as part of social distancing.

Local governments in Brazos County added new face mask orders after COVID-19 cases in the county and state have continued to climb.

“I think it’s a good thing for the community to come together and make some small sacrifices for the betterment of the community,” said David Weaver, who owns David’s Jewelry & Coin Exchange in College Station.

Businesses have still had questions about what enforcement will look like. College Station city staff tell us the first line of enforcement will be from businesses. College Station businesses allowing people to violate the mask order can face fines up to $1,000 per day.

”I don’t really think it seems like it’s very fair that the business is going to be 100 percent on the line for a violation but I think the police are going to be overly willing to help with any kind of problem that might come on so I’m really not concerned with it,” said Weaver.

Police and city staff said they aren’t aiming to cite companies. After reporting any issues to a business, people are encouraged to contact College Station Code Enforcement.

”Our primary goal is all about education all right? So if somebody has a concern or a question and they’re contacting our code enforcement office we can follow up on that either through phone or in person,” said Brian Piscacek, College Station Assistant to the City Manager. “The first step is always education hopefully to achieve that voluntary compliance,” he added.

Over at FastSigns the company was printing out COVID-19 requirement signs for some of their clients.

”We’re just asking everybody I mean really just to abide by the mandate. I mean nobody likes wearing face masks, it’s not comfortable but it’s the least we can do to help the situation,” said Tate Brightwell, a FastSigns Sales Representative.

“We’re just encouraging customers to please wear the face mask just to stay within the mandate outlines and everything so we’re just doing our part to help mitigate the COVID situation we’ve got going on here,” he said.

Weaver says for now, he’ll provide masks for customers who don’t know the new rules.

”I really don’t see people coming in trying not to wear a mask on purpose,” said Weaver.

Bryan and Brazos County’s face mask orders do not have any civil or criminal penalties at this time. We asked College Station why they decided to add a penalty for businesses if they weren’t going to use it.

Mayor Karl Mooney told us they wanted it in case of extreme cases of disregarding the rules happened.

We have details on the local rules with our morning show story here.

College Station’s website explaining their new mandate can be found here.

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