Unmasked: Atascosa Co. mask mandate lifted

Atascosa County joins 68 other counties out of 254 that are allowed to “unmask” from Gov. Abbott’s GA-29 mask mandate. The new order of declaration has been executed and is in effect.

Atascosa County was approved by the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) Tuesday to lift the mask mandate set by Governor Abbott in July. Atascosa County has remained under 20 active cases for 14 days which is the requirement of TDEM to qualify to lift the mandate.

This lift means that the general public will no longer have to wear masks unless going into a facility or business that requires masks to be worn. Business owners have the right to require customers to wear masks for entry. There are exemptions to the mask mandate which include: schools, bars, courts and elections.

All school districts in Atascosa County are excluded from the mask lifting order. They shall continue to abide by the Governor’s orders as related to the mandatory mask order. Bars which can open at 50% as of Oct. 14 will still be required to have their patrons and employees wear masks. All persons who enter any Atascosa County court or the courthouse at this time are required to wear masks as are the staff at those buildings. The mandate for voting stations has not changed. Masks have never been required at voting stations as stated in the Governor’s GA-29 executive order. Atascosa County Judge Bob Hurley is requiring all poll workers to wear masks unless they have a medical reason not to do so. The county is providing free masks and hand sanitizers at all polling locations.

The mask mandate changes nothing else about the Governor’s GA-29 Executive Order. Everything else besides the lifting of the face masks will remain intact including social distancing and hand sanitizing plus the rules that impact restaurants, public and private gatherings, theatres, churches and any other situations as defined by the Governor. For a full checklist of minimum standard health protocols for businesses, bars, salons, churches, senior facilities, parks, bowling alleys, theatres, wedding venues, youth clubs and more  please go to open.texas.gov.

The counties, currently, that have lifted their mask mandate include: Archer, Armstrong, Atascosa, Bailey, Bandera, Baylor, Borden, Briscoe, Calhoun, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Cochran, Coke, Coleman, Collingsworth, Colorado, Cottle, Crane, Crosby, Delta, Dickens, Edwards, Fisher, Foard, Franklin, Glasscock, Goliad, Hardeman, Hartley, Haskell, Hudspeth, Irion, Jack, Jackson, Karnes, Kent, King, Kinney, Lipscomb, Lynn, Marion, Martin, Mason, McMullen, Montague, Morris, Motley, Newton, Oldham, Rains, Reagan, Real, Red River, Roberts, Sabine, Schleicher, Shackelford, Sherman, Stephens, Sterling, Sutton, Terrell, Throckmorton, Tyler, Upton, Ward, and Wheeler.

Mary Rodriguez and Erica Lopez, who own and operate Café Chris, said that they will still have cooks and wait staff wear masks for the protection of employees and customers. “We have so appreciated the outpouring of love and support we have received from our loyal customers and friends at Café Chris during this pandemic. Our goal is to keep serving great food and keep everyone as safe as possible.”

Beginning Wednesday, Oct. 14, all counties where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity can open all businesses other than bars to 75% capacity. Atascosa County qualifies to open businesses including bowling alleys and theatres up to 75% occupancy.

Judge Hurley said that he encourages people to be safe so once the mask mandate is lifted, it stays lifted. “I encourage all citizens to be responsible and continue to wear a mask not only to protect yourself but our fellow citizens and friends,” said Judge Hurley. “It is the generous and courteous thing to do.” Judge Hurley said we are in a period of a series of transition. “Because when we lift this and the numbers go up because of Halloween or Thanksgiving and they go up over 20 for two weeks consecutive, then we have no choice and it will reverse our request. We will automatically go back to enforced masking by state rule. So, it is really up to everyone’s benefit to keep the numbers low in the county if they want this to work.” If the order to lift the wearing of masks is reversed it must stay in place for 30 days.

To read the full Atascosa County lifting of the mask mandate order, please go to www.atascosacounty. texas.gov

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