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No punishment for not wearing face masks, Dallas County Commissioners vote

The commissioners also voted Friday to have a limited reopening of craft stores so people can buy mask and school supplies

DALLAS COUNTY, Texas — Updated with details about when craft stores can reopen for limited service.

Craft stores will soon partially reopen and you won't face punishment for not wearing face masks; those were the two big developments to come out of the Dallas County Commissioners Court Friday, in a meeting that was fiery at times.

It was an emergency meeting to discuss Judge Clay Jenkins' order that said starting at midnight Saturday, all people over the age of 2 must wear face coverings at essential businesses and on public transportation within county lines.

At the heart of the discussion was whether the commissioners needed explicit language in the order saying people would not face fines or punishment if they didn't wear the masks.

Jenkins said simply telling the public would be enough.

"We made it explicitly clear we don’t plan on enforcing this with police and tickets," Jenkins said in an exchange Friday with commissioner JJ Koch.

But Koch and others disagreed.

RELATED: What you need to know about the new facial covering order in Dallas County

"Yes, you said it in words but it's not in the order so it's not lawful. It's not part of the lawful order," Koch responded.

"When you hear 'order,' 'the judge’s order' and then you say but, well, it's voluntarily, to the greatest extent possible, it sends mixed messages," commissioner John Wiley Price said.

Koch then offered a motion to amend the order.

"One, I think Saturday we need to open the craft stores so people can make their own masks, and two, the order needs to make explicit that there’s no punishment or fine for violation of this particular order and direct law enforcement not to stop individuals based on mask violations," he said.

In the end, that's exactly what happened, in a vote of 3-2, with Jenkins and Dr. Elba Garcia dissenting.

According to Jenkins' spokeswoman, craft stores will be allowed to reopen as of 11:59 p.m. Friday for mask and school supplies only, but you will be urged to wear cloth face coverings in Dallas County as of Saturday. However, you won't get in trouble if you don't.

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