Mayor Doug Gaul announced a local disaster declaration, activating the City of Hutto’s emergency management plan in response to a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Williamson County. As part of the declaration, all business, including not-for-profit entities, must implement a health and safety policy to include mandatory face coverings.

“This declaration is a tool to slow the community spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Gaul. “As we start to increase necessary activities, and more people are out in the City, we have to adopt more measures to protect each other and help keep businesses open and the community moving in the right direction. Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses.”

Although earlier research indicated cloth face masks were less effective than N95 masks, recent research has shown the consistent use of social distancing measures along with frequent handwashing and face coverings significantly slows the spread of COVID-19. According to Centers for Disease Control, COVID-19 spreads mostly among people who are in close contact with each other. Masks help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and to other people when the person wearing the mask talks, sneezes or coughs.

From the declaration: Effective as of 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday July 1, 2020, all businesses (including not-for-profit entities) and commercial entities in the City of Hutto must develop and implement a health and safety policy (“Health and Safety Policy”). The Health and Safety Policy must require, at a minimum, that all employees or visitors to the commercial entity’s business premises or other facilities wear face coverings when in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public where six feet of separation is not feasible. The Health and Safety Policy required to be developed and implemented by this Order may also include the implementation of other mitigating measures designed to control and reduce the transmission of COVID-19 such as temperature checks or health screenings. Commercial entities must post the Health and Safety Policy required by this Order in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements. Failure to develop and implement the Health and Safety Policy required by this Order within five (5) calendar days following the Effective Date may result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation.

“Masks are to protect others in our community, not ourselves,” said Gaul. “Until we get a vaccine, this is going to be one of the best ways to protect everyone. Together we can all do our part to protect our neighbors and community.”

The declaration is available here.