During the June 24 special Rowlett City Council meeting, the council heard from residents in regards to the possibility of extending the Dallas County mask mandate to the Rockwall County portion of Rowlett. After much discussion, the council unanimously voted not to extend this Dallas County order citywide to the Rockwall County portion of Rowlett.
Mayor Tammy Dana-Bashian noted, “Dallas County jurisdiction trumps anything we would do to the contrary from a city portion of Rowlett in Dallas County.”
“The recent orders basically state that each business is required to have a procedural or SOP (standard operating procedure) that is clearly visible on what the requirements are when you enter the business as a customer and as an employee of the business," Community Development Director Munal Mauladad said. "So that basically states that you have to wear a mask when/if in the facility and as an employee of the facility.”
Prior to the meeting, Rowlett Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Michael Gallops sent a letter to Dana-Bashian on this matter.
“On behalf of the Rowlett Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Directors I would like to state our opposition to any COVID-19 related order that puts the burden of enforcement on businesses, business owners and managers, and their employees. Additionally, fining a business owner for the inaction of a consumer creates an undue hardship on that business at a time when many are struggling to simply survive due to closure orders or forced reductions in service.
"Further, the order from Dallas County dated June 19, 2020, is ambiguous and has caused a great deal of confusion from business owners. Should the city of Rowlett wish to extend the Dallas County order to the Rockwall County portion of the city we strongly encourage you to create an ordinance that is clear and concise rather than simply mirroring the existing order.”
Mauladad said the city received input from Dallas County in regards to parameters, enforcement, etc.
“The county encourages people to wear masks, be safe, (and) practice social distancing; however, more importantly, be wise about if there is someone visiting your facility or business, be smart on how you encourage them to wear a mask,” she said.
She also noted that in the past when the pandemic was declared, complaints were called in on businesses not practicing occupancy levels and other measures.
“We use it as a coaching moment and physically go there. We visit and we talk to them and explain what the parameters are. That’s what we’re likely going to do this go around, too,” Mauladad said. “We don’t want to go out there and seek and find out ‘are your procedures out there?’ We will guide when we get phone calls. We will help to the greatest extent possible and provide that input on how to and what to do whether that’s with restaurants or stores, or larger retail outlets. But we’re there to assist and guide and to help not just those establishments but also our residents.”
The council was in favor of wearing a mask in public areas where social distancing is difficult but voted not to extend this mandate to the Rowlett portion of Rockwall County because they do not believe this burden should be put on businesses and it should be an individual’s responsibility.
Councilman Matt Grubisich also said that if people do not follow mask and social distancing guidelines that decision can be taken away from them and be imposed on them at the county or state level, possibly nationally. If the situation continues to get worse it could mean a lockdown, further impacting local businesses, as well individuals and the economy.