Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales is encouraging Bexar County residents to continue wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, regardless of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-34 that lifts the state’s mask mandate on March 10.
“I want to remind members of the business community that you have the right to insist that people wear masks while patronizing your establishment. You have a right to request customers wear a mask and, if they refuse, then you have a right to ask them to leave. Under the law of criminal trespass, if a person receives notice to depart the premises and that person refuses to do so, he or she can be arrested for criminal trespass,” Gonzales said.
While GA-34 states, “individuals are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household, but no person may be required by any jurisdiction to wear or to mandate the wearing of a face covering,” it also says “nothing in this executive order precludes businesses or other establishments from requiring employees or customers to follow additional hygiene measures, including the wearing of a face covering.”
During the pandemic, many businesses have shifted operations to allow for curbside pickup or delivery to allow customers to make purchases without needing to wear a mask to enter the business. If those business want to continue requiring masks – as they can also require customers to wear shoes and a shirt – they can refuse service to customers who are not wearing a mask. Those customers who do not leave may be asked to leave, either orally or in writing.
“I would encourage our friends in the business community to do it as peacefully as possible – again, request that an individual wear a mask and if he or she refuses I would suggest that you call the authorities. Let the professionals handle it. Do not take the law into your own hands,” Gonzales said.
The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office staff has abided by COVID-19 protocols since March 2019. Many employees have worked remotely. Where social distancing is not possible, workspaces have been reconfigured to include barriers and employees have shifted their schedules to come into the office on a rotating basis to prevent crowding. Additionally, all staff are required to wear masks in the office unless it is possible to safely distance from others.
Click here to read Governor Abbott's Executive Order lifting the state's mask mandate.
Click here for Bexar County's COVID-19 response.
Click here for additional COVID-19 resources.