DALLAS — Updated to clarify businesses are mandated to require masks.
The Dallas County Commissioners Court held an emergency session Friday morning to vote on a county-wide mask policy.
Commissioners passed an ordinance 3-2 that requires businesses to require workers and customers to wear face masks.
Judge Clay Jenkins, Dr. Theresa Daniel, and Dr. Elba Garcia voted in favor of the proposal. J.J. Koch and John Wiley Price voted against it.
The amended version includes a $500 fine if a business fails to come up with a health and safety policy and post it "in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors."
An earlier version of the ordinance included language related to enforcement and a $1000 fine. Both of those references were deleted from the final version.
County judge Clay Jenkins also said businesses will not be subject to a fine if a customer refuses to comply with the policy.
The ordinance goes into effect at 11:59 pm Friday and ends August 4 at 11:59 pm.
The meeting came after Gov. Greg Abbott said local governments can require businesses to mandate customers and workers to wear face masks, but could not order individuals to do so.
Bexar and Hidalgo Counties, which includes the City of San Antonio, ordered such a measure earlier this week, following a surge in cases across the state. Dallas County is among those seeing upward trends in new positive cases, positivity rate, and hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins spoke to WFAA earlier this week and said the order will likely mirror the one in Bexar County.
"It's never too late to follow the science," Jenkins said. "The businesses and the medical community want this. It will be similar to, 'no shoes, no shirt, no service.'"
Businesses WFAA spoke with on Friday said they support the requirement.
Carley Seale, owner of Favor the Kind in East Dallas, says the clothing and home decor business has kept occupancy well below the 50-percent threshold and has dedicated one employee to control access into the store by locking the door as customers enter and exit.
"I think it will make it a little easier, take the pressure off of us to police the situation," Seale said. "We think social distancing and wearing a mask just sets the whole situation up the best it possibly can.”
Large businesses like AT&T and grocer Central Market, owned by HEB, spoke in support of the ordinance on Friday during the commissioners meeting.
Before the vote, a representative from Central Market told commissioners the grocer would be requiring masks starting Monday and using the upcoming weekend to inform customers of the new policy, which will include providing a mask to customers if they don't have one.
In Tarrant County, Judge Glen Whitley and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said Wednesday that they would not be seeking a similar order. Whitley said he consulted with hospitals, mayors, and school districts before making a decision.
The developments come as Texas sees a surge in coronavirus-related hospitalizations. Across the state, hospitalizations have increased 95% since Memorial Day, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area has seen a 73% jump.
The Dallas County Commissioners Court emergency session can be watched online.
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- MAP: These are the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Dallas-Fort Worth area
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- Student athletes at 6 North Texas high schools test positive for COVID-19