Dallas County’s new mask requirements could prevent negative interactions between workers and customers, as well as protect against COVID-19, some business owners say.
Friday morning, Dallas County Commissioners voted 3-2 and passed an amended ordinance that allows businesses to ask customers who aren’t wearing masks to leave. The order went into effect at midnight and ends on Aug. 4.
Saturday morning, businesses in the popular Bishop Arts District had signs on doors, in windows and on placards in front of entrances telling customers they had to have a mask to enter.
“I think this really just helps us and it helps further the economy now that we can feel safer about being out and shopping in public,” said Ken Valencia, owner of Bishop Street Market.
The policy didn’t come without controversy. County commissioners JJ Koch and John Wiley Price spoke out against the proposal at Friday's meeting. They claimed it should be up to the individual businesses, not the county government to decide whether to require masks.
Gary Huddleston of the Texas Retailers Association told commissioners most TRA members support the requirements. Shoppers are more likely to comply with a countywide order than a store policy, which will reduce negative interactions with customers, Huddleston said.
On June 12, Cedar Hill police released surveillance footage, which the department says shows a customer shoving an employee after the worker asked the man to step outside because he wasn’t wearing a mask.
While physical violence might be rare, Valencia said disagreements do come up, even at the Bishop Arts District.
“We’ve had a few people who have their own ideas about not wearing a mask,” Valencia said.
He’s relieved most customers he saw Saturday were happy to comply with the new rules.
“I think everyone has been really supportive and very appreciative that the mask directive has been put in place for our safety and the safety of our customers and the safety of our employees,” Valencia said.
Business who fail to come up with a health and safety policy and post it "in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors,” could face a $500 fine.
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