DALLAS - Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins wants the county to follow the path laid in Bexar County and order businesses to mandate employees and customers wear masks. The businesses must tell customers they must comply.
Judge Jenkins is trying to set an emergency session of commissioner’s court for Friday to ask for the mask mandate, hoping a majority will say yes. He says he's doing what the governor won't.
Some business owners agree, but others say this would force them to do what they don’t want to do as well.
One of the breakfast spots in Cedar Hill is Mister James Delicious Foods.
“I feel like it’s important to wear the mask,” said owner Crystal Howell. “We have not, at this point, asked our customers to do so.”
But Howell may have to if commissioners grant Judge Jenkins’ request to mandate all employers and customers have face coverings, enforced by the businesses.
“I feel like it’s always better if the government enforces something on the people versus an individual person,” Howell said.
“The bigger concern is that over the last two weeks, we've had a 40 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations,” Jenkins said.
That's why the county judge is taking action.
“There won't be a big push on enforcement,” Jenkins said.
The governor won't.
“Most businesses want a requirement that will make customers wear that mask,” Jenkins said. “All the customers wear that mask, which protects their employees.”
Attorney David Coale, a constitutional law specialist, says the government code gives cities and counties power to act in emergencies when state leaders don’t or won’t.
“We have a lot of laws in Texas. We have a Texas government code that from top to bottom spells out details about all branches of government at all levels,” Coale said. “County judges have that power. Our government code was designed to allow local action.”
In a statement, Walmart says its associates have been wearing masks since April 20, adding that it strongly encourages all customers to adhere to the decisions made by their elected leaders.
Central Market says it has been in touch with Judge Jenkins and other business leaders and would follow an order similar to the Bexar County order.
At Hair Center Beauty Supply, a sign at the door says: “No mask. No enter.”
“When they come in without a mask, they are risking other people get COVID-19, and they're risking our health too and our family’s health,” said Kaydi Chirinoi with the beauty supply store.
The National Federation of Independent Business doesn't like it. It says this would place an unfair burden on business owners and maybe hurt already ailing profits and open the door to litigation.