Another North Texas city is imposing new burdens on local businesses already hurting from months of government-mandated coronavirus closures.
On Monday, McKinney Mayor George Fuller issued a declaration forcing the city’s business owners to require face masks for all employees and visitors, or else face stiff penalties.
Fuller’s executive order expires in seven days unless approved by the city council.
The McKinney mayor’s mask order mirrors the mandate passed by Denton City Council on Friday and “authorizes the use of all lawfully available enforcement tools,” including fines of up to $1,000 a day on businesses.
Localities began issuing the orders in response to increases in daily new coronavirus cases reported since the end of May.
After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave local officials the go-ahead, commissioners in Dallas and Tarrant counties imposed similar mask orders on businesses (mandates and penalties on individual Texans other than business owners are still banned). Dallas’ Democrat County Judge Clay Jenkins now wants Abbott to issue a statewide mask mandate.
Officials in other localities, like Denton County and the city of Plano, have chosen to implement campaigns encouraging local residents and businesses to voluntarily wear masks and take other precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
On Saturday, Fuller posted on Facebook, explaining his intention to issue the mask order:
“For those that will harshly criticize me, and accuse me of trying to take away your civil liberties, I ask that you give me grace, and realize I am not trying to be an authoritative dictator, I actually just care about our community and our businesses and I am following the preponderance of medical evidence. I believe it is worth the teeny, tiny sacrifice to put a mask on when we go into a business or store.”
Many McKinney residents disagree with Fuller’s approach.
“I have no problem with wearing masks,” said Bridgette Ann, publisher of local government transparency site McKinney Citizen to Citizen. “I’m wondering how this will be enforced.”
“I’m sure I’m not the only person who doesn’t want businesses to be further stressed because they will now have to become the enforcers of a city mask mandate, too,” Ann said.
“It should not be mandated,” said local realtor Serena Ashcroft. “Our mayor can strongly encourage but not mandate all businesses.”
“Let businesses decide,” Ashcroft added. “Mandating is an overreach.”
“Even if you agree with wearing masks, this is NOT how it should be put in place,” McKinney businessman and conservative activist Derek Baker posted on Facebook:
“No town hall, no press conference, no public effort to seek the will of the people, not even a vote of the whole council… just King Fuller’s opinion. And if you disagree with him publicly—or privately—you are ridiculed and shamed.”
“I do wear a mask at times,” said Paul Chabot, owner of McKinney-based Conservative Move, in a message to council members. “However, the forced nature of the act upon citizens is the concern.”
“I would recommend that McKinney, rather, pass a resolution recommending citizens follow the guidance of their doctors, the state, and federal government,” Chabot said.
McKinney residents who want to weigh in on the order can contact their city council members.