San Antonio, Bexar County orders mandatory face mask use

CONVERSE, Tex. (KTSA News) — The City of San Antonio and Bexar County announced Thursday evening both are mandating everyone over the age of 10 to wear a mask.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said that order takes effect immediately.

The order affects those who cannot maintain social distancing guidelines.

“Face coverings help make sure that folks who are carrying the virus and may have no symptoms or mild symptoms don’t pass it on to somebody else,” the mayor explained in the city’s weekly briefing Thursday.

“We’re still doing better than most of the metropolitan areas in the State of Texas and it’s because all of you are working so hard to make sure that we don’t infect someone else and that we are taking care of our loved ones,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff told the same audience.

The mayor said San Antonio and Bexar County currently have 918 confirmed cases of coronavirus — an increase of 28 cases from Wednesday.  There were no additional deaths — that total remains at 37.

Nirenberg also said there have been decreases in the number of people hospitalized and on ventilators.

Reporters in the room asked the mayor why the city is choosing to take this action now.

“As we know more about the behavior of this virus over time, this becomes a natural next step,” Nirenberg explained. “We’ve issued guidance already in conjunction with the CDC now about a week or so ago to get people used to wearing masks and I think this is where we need to go next, guided, of course, by our health authority.”

As with the city’s earlier recommendation to use masks, Metro Health and the mayor say this does not replace social distancing.

The mayor admits that enforcement would be difficult, but he believes the community will comply.

Essential businesses that are allowed to remain open under the Stay Home, Work Safe order have until Monday, April 20, to provide face coverings for their employees.

Face coverings are not required in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, such as banks. You don’t need to wear one when you’re driving alone or with members of your household, when exercising outside or engaging in physical activities outdoors, or when face coverings pose a health, physical, or safety risk.

The orders issued Thursday for San Antonio and Bexar County also reduced maximum occupancy for businesses that are allowed to remain open.  They must limit the number of people inside their establishments to 25 percent of the limit listed on their Certificate of Occupancy, effective April 20, 2020.

Also, based on guidance issued by the Texas Attorney General,  playing golf at private golf courses is allowed as long as no equipment rentals, caddies or other golf course personnel are involved.   Social distancing must be maintained.  Private golf courses also are allowed to continue food sales consistent with Stay Home Work Safe orders issued for restaurants.  Municipal golf courses will remain closed.

Additional reporting by KTSA’s Elizabeth Ruiz in San Antonio.

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