The city of Granite Shoals is staying in line with Gov. Greg Abbott’s move rescinding the statewide face covering requirement for businesses, but officials are keeping it in effect for city spaces.
During City Council’s meeting, Tuesday, March 9, councilors and staff discussed Abbott’s decision to curtail the face covering order and allowing businesses to operate at 100 percent capacity. The change went into effect Wednesday, March 10.
Last fall, the council adopted a disaster declaration in regard to COVID-19 that mirrored the governor’s initial face covering order. During this recent meeting, councilors amended the declaration, but not without some conversation.
Councilor Steve Hougen, a retired surgeon, wanted the council to continue to follow the city’s original disaster declaration, noting that the COVID-19 “virus is still active in the county.” He added that “Burnet County is (listed in the) 25 percent most vulnerable counties” in Texas.
Hougen brought the point right to council chambers.
“Many people in this room have had close exposure or know people who’ve had COVID-19,” he said. “In this room, one of out 10 could be infected right now. You’d want to wear a mask to protect yourself.”
Councilor Phil Ort said that he believes wearing a face covering should be up to individuals, not mandated by government.
“It should be up to them to decide,” he said. “I agree at City Hall, it’s up to y’all. I do not believe we should tell restaurants (to require masks).”
City Attorney Joshua Katz clarified what leaders can and cannot do, noting once the governor issues a mandate or order, cities do not have the authority to override it.
“It applies across the state,” he said. “What the governor orders is what Granite Shoals is going to comply with.”
The city can no longer require businesses to enforce a face covering order, but the establishments themselves can choose to require patrons and employees wear them.
Katz added that requiring people to wear face masks at Granite Shoals-owned property, as part of the original city disaster declaration, is in effect until the end of 2021 or until the council changes it.
Under the declaration as amended March 9, the city will continue to require “every person entering” a city-owned facility or building to wear a face covering.
While the City Council can’t mandate businesses continue a face covering requirement, it is encouraging the practice.
The council will continue to hold its public meetings in a manner that allows members and the public to attend in person or virtually.
Staff will broadcast meetings online to give people options on how to attend.
In other business, City Secretary Elaine Simpson swore in Eddie McCoy to the Place 5 seat. He replaces Shirley Martin, who passed away in February.