After fiery debate, Dallas County votes to re-open craft stores, clarifies mask requirements

Dallas County commissioners had a fiery debate over Dallas County Judge Jenkins’ latest order requiring face masks at essential business.

Commissioners voted to make it clear that nobody will be ticketed if they aren't wearing a face covering. They also voted to make some businesses previously considered non-essential, essential again.

The Dallas County Commissioners voted in favor of reopening stores like Hobby Lobby, JOANN and Michaels so that people are able to buy materials for making masks or supplies for school at home.

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The emergency meeting Friday morning turned heated in the debate over Jenkins’ order for people to wear face coverings.

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Jenkins issued the order Thursday afternoon, saying anyone who visits or works at an essential business in Dallas County should cover their face. The judge recommended that people use a scarf or mask to cover their nose and mouth as a way of protecting essential workers from someone who may be asymptomatic or not yet know they have COVID-19.

County Commissioner John Wiley Price repeatedly questioned the effectiveness of face coverings.

"Bandanas don't.... there are other respiratory therapists other than whoever you are consulting with. They provide no protection! They send a really false message," Price argued.

Price also argued the shelter at home order has taken an excessive toll on his constituents and that decisions are being made without fully considering the community impact.

“Mask or no mask, it’s falling on deaf ears in my community. You can groom your dog but not get a haircut. I have 5,000 barbers and beauty individuals who can't eat for the last month,” he said.

A measure passed by a vote of 3-2 with the condition that craft stores must follow the same precautions as other essential businesses.

Three out of four commissioners were not happy about what they described as being left out of the loop on the latest amendment requiring people to wear facial coverings starting Saturday when they go into businesses or ride public transit.

Commissioners were concerned that even though the facial covering order is voluntary, it would still allow police to ask questions.

“On certain sides of the track, an order means something else,” Price said.

Jenkins emphasized there is no plan to issue tickets for not wearing a covering.

“People are busy,” he said. “I can't imagine police will use this to become the mask police.”

Commissioners did agree to spell out in the order that no one could be questioned or ticketed for not complying.

Meanwhile, the head of the Dallas Medical Society tried to explain why the cover your face recommendations are suddenly so important and explained why it applies mostly to people who appear to be healthy.

"Here is my sneeze,” Dallas Medical Society President Dr. Mark Casanova demonstrated. “This is what happens with a cloth face covering.  It is effectively blocking droplet transmission."

In the end, Price did not get his provision to reopen barber shops and salons. But commissioners did vote to allow craft stores to reopen so people can buy materials to make masks.

Jenkins said businesses could refuse service to anyone not covering their face.

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