AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Friday afternoon, Amarillo’s Mayor and City Council met to further discuss an ordinance meant to encourage business owners to enforce masks within their facilities.
Friday’s meeting that focused on Ordinance 7893 ended up lasting over four hours.
For clarification, Environmental Health Director, Anthony Spanel, broke down the ordinance.
For starters, he explained that it only pertains to the City of Amarillo.
The ordinance has three main sectors: Applicability, minimum standards, and enforcement.
It was explained that the ordinance applies to any business with greater than 10 persons present.
However there are exemptions. Sites exempted include: Governmental entities, medical facilities, childcare programs, churches, and residential dwellings.
Additionally, the enforcement section was further explained.
“The main goal is, always is and will be compliance. Our first step is to educate. Our second step is educate. And we keep doing that until a time where we’re unable to move past that,” said Spanel.
Additionally, the minimum standards were discussed further.
“Second, the minimum standards section is consistent with Executive Orders and Open Texas Guidelines and I want to go over a few of those. For example, summarizing them: wearing of a face covering, frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces, posting of a notice – “Face covering is required” at each entrance,” continued Spanel.
Additional minimum standards are social distancing, pre-shift health screenings for staff, and working with the Health Department on contact tracing.
Following public comment, many opinions were provided during the discussion.
Mayor Ginger Nelson, of the city of Amarillo, said, “I would just plead with every business owner in our city. That’s what this ordinance is about. It’s asking you to consider how you can increase your effort and engage more people to. Even if it’s just a simple ask at the door, ‘would you please wear a mask?'”
With a different opinion on the ordinance, Elaine Hays, Councilmember Place 1 stated, “I feel that it’s unconstitutional, potentially illegal, and an unfair transfer of burden to our small businesses.”
Previously, the metric was that this ordinance would only apply when the COVID-19 status in the city of Amarillo is in red or orange level.
However, that was amended. The motion was passed that the metric to be used for when the ordinance would go into effect would be when the area hospitalization rate was higher than 15%.
The motion to amend the ordinance passed by a vote four to one.
Mayor Nelson and the Amarillo City Council will meet again to further discuss the ordinance, Monday at 11 a.m.