SAN ANTONIO — Following in the lead of Austin and Dallas County, San Antonio is now mandating that all residents 10 years of age and older wear a cloth face covering in public setting, as part of the latest efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
The new directive, which comes as an addendum to the current stay-home order, is effective Monday, though city leaders had previously stated the order would be effective immediately. In an email Thursday evening, officials said "we understand the public may need some time to obtain or make a cloth face covering."
Meanwhile,also starting Monday, local businesses will be required to “provide face coverings and training for appropriate use to employees” in workspaces where people are in close proximity.
“This is the next step, obviously," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a briefing Thursday evening. "And as we know more about the behavior of this virus over time, this becomes the natural next step.”
The city says that while bandannas, handkerchiefs and scarfs can be used to cover one's face, "it is strongly recommended" that residents don't purchase hospital-grade masks that are vital for healthcare workers and first responders.
The addendum to the city’s ongoing order says outdoor exercise, solitary driving, pumping gas and eating/drinking are actions that make individuals exempt from the order. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control amended its recommendations to suggest that the public wear face coverings where it might be difficult to maintain social distancing.
In the same addendum, the city also stipulated that grocery and retail stores still able to operate under the stay-home order must limit occupancy at any given time to 25%. Meanwhile, private golf courses will be allowed to operate "only if there are no equipment rentals, caddies or other golf course personnel involved," and social distancing is being practiced. Municipal courses, meanwhile, will stay closed.
The city on Thursday reported that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 918 in the county. The death toll from coronavirus complications is 37.