The City of Lubbock called an emergency special City Council meeting to declare a local disaster on June 26 at 3 p.m., the same day that Governor Greg Abbott issued a new executive order limiting businesses as part of Texas' effort to contain the recent spike in COVID-19 infections.
Mayor Dan Pope’s order, which goes into effect June 29, 2020, states: “All commercial entities in the City of Lubbock providing goods or services directly to the public 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 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 city’s order includes additional guidelines, which adhere to the Governor’s order this morning: gatherings of 100 people or more which are prohibited unless approved by the mayor or a county judge, restaurants will drop from 75 to 50 percent occupancy and bars are closed for in-person visits as of noon Friday.
“Our (the City of Lubbock) cases have doubled in the last 11 days,” Pope said. “A mask order, much like closing bars will not have an over night impact… This will not change things tomorrow, but I do believe this is the best course.”
This order does not apply to schools, churches, federal, county or state offices, which all have their own rules.
There will be no civil or criminal penalty associated with not wearing face coverings, following the Governor’s order.
The City Council voted 5 to 1 to affirm this declaration in order to avoid an expiry of seven days.
Before issuing this order, Steve Massengale, city council member, spoke on behalf of the economic recovery task force stating that they were in 100 percent favor for a mask ordnance.
“We need to use every tool we have,” Massengale said. “Wearing masks in the only tool we have left to control the spread. We must be socially responsible.”
Dr. Ronald Cook also spoke to the city council beforehand.
“Face masks and social distancing are our only barrier against this virus, which typically goes no further than six feet,” Dr. Cook said. “We know that this virus is more infectious than the flu, typically one percent of people dies from the flu. Right now, somewhere from three to four percent of the people that get this COVID virus will die.”
Cook said he predicts that there will be more deaths in Lubbock if measures are not taken to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We don’t have a vaccine, we don’t have drugs and we don’t have herd immunity. None of us have immunity” Cook said. “The flu virus has been around long enough that we have herd immunity. So, the only thing that we have are physical barriers to prevent this disease.”
Pope decided to not require businesses to mandate guests to wear facial coverings.
“I tend to agree that there is enough on our business, and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Pope said.
City Manager Jarrett Atkinson made note while reading the order during the meeting that, facial coverings are not considered so if they are not covering your both nose and mouth.