SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Bexar County officials have released a new executive order Wednesday following a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to San Antonio's KSAT.
The new order mandates that “all commercial entities providing goods and services” must implement a health and safety policy within five days. The policy “must require, at a minimum, that all employees or visitors ... wear face coverings when in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involved close contact,” according to the new order.
Businesses who fail to follow the order can be fined by $1,000. However, individuals cannot be fined for not wearing a face mask.
“The action I’m taking today may be pushing the legal bounds a little bit but our attorneys believe they can defend this order in court,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.
The new order comes amid a surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in San Antonio.
Travis County has also seen a rise in COVID-19 cases, and according to FOX 7 Austin's Natalie Martinez, local officials are considering a similar order.
On Tuesday, Gov. Abbott held a press release on the rising COVID-19 numbers across the state.
"The increased occupancy of hospital beds, it does raise concerns but as shown today there's no reason to be alarmed. The reason is even though there are more people hospitalized we still remain at the lowest threat level in our hospital capacity,” said Abbott.
Gov. Abbott also mentioned that county judges can implement fines for other strategies, like stricter enforcement on large gatherings." The governor made a statement that opened a door a little bit,” Judge Wolff said.
Judge Wolff also said he has contacted Abbott’s staff, but did not hear back from them.
Texas Democratic Congressman Llyod Doggett also responded to Bexar County's executive order with a letter to Gov. Abbott.
Doggett said in part, "As the U.S. surpasses 115,000 COVID-19 related deaths and Texas inches closer to 100,000 confirmed cases, you must allow local authorities to take the steps required to protect the public. Within their limited legal authority, today Judge Wolff and Mayor Nirenberg announced an order mandating that businesses require customers and employees to wear masks when they're on the premises. I support their leadership to take immediate action during this crisis. Further local action is also being considered in Austin and Travis County."
KSAT also states that business in Bexar County have until Monday to post their health and safety policy. The order is in effect until June 30.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.