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College Station Face Mask Order Causing Confusion

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On June 25, Mayor Karl Mooney signed an emergency order requiring face coverings to be worn inside College Station businesses. The order went into effect on June 29 and will remain in effect until terminated by the College Station City Council or the Mayor’s Declaration of Disaster is terminated, whichever occurs first.

City of College Station Sign for Businesses

The sign provided by the city does not inform the public that there are many exemptions for the order, and much of the public is not aware that some people are exempt. This has triggered many unfounded complaints to code enforcement and has caused anxiety for people that cannot wear a face mask in public.

Several groups of people are exempt from this Executive Order: children under ten years old, people with medical conditions, and people with mental health issues. Face masks are also not required wherever it is feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing.

The City of College Station allows people to submit anonymous COVID complaints through the SeeClickFix app, or they can call code enforcement. Many people are using the app to report people without masks in public.

A local business owner reported that Code Enforcement showed up based on an anonymous tip that an employee was not wearing a mask. The employee was a Navy Veteran who could not wear a face mask due to a medical condition. Code Enforcement responded to the complaint and warned the business to follow the order, even though there was not a violation.

Code Enforcement responds to anonymous complaints from SeeClickFix, even though there is no knowledge if a mask was required. The Code Enforcement field guide does not require officers to inform the public that many exemptions exist.

Health experts have said legitimate health problems can include chronic asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. Other conditions that could make wearing a mask difficult could include people who have post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety or claustrophobia, or someone with autism who is sensitive to touch and texture.

An alternative sign that clarifies the mayoral order could help inform the public that some people are exempt. Below is one created for Governour Abbott’s Executive order.

https://facecoveringsigns.com/

Governour Abbott’s signed an Executive Order that also requires face coverings to be worn in public on July 2, 2020. If the Mayoral Fase mask order ends, College Station will still be under the state order.

Some Texas attorneys believe Governor Abbott’s Executive Order is not enforceable. Texas Constitution expert and Texas A&M University grad Tom Glass believe that the governor’s order is unconstitutional and does not have the force of law. However, local orders are more likely to be declared constitutional.

Contact your representatives

To make written comments for College Station City Council or to speak to the Council, fill out the comment form on the Council website. https://www.cstx.gov/departments___city_hall/council/comments

Sources:

https://gov.texas.gov/coronavirus-executive-orders

https://www.cstx.gov/c_o_v_i_d-19__what_are_we_doing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzOEhzHMpss

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