Mayor Sylvester Turner sent a memo on the mandate to all city employees on Monday.
HOUSTON – As of Wednesday, City of Houston employees will be required to wear masks in many situations.
Mayor Sylvester Turner sent a memo to all city employees Monday about the mandate mandating masks on city grounds where social distancing is not possible for employees who cannot “medically tolerate” face covering.
It comes less than a week after an executive order from Governor Greg Abbott banning mask mandates from cities, counties and school districts.
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Houston City Attorney Arturo Michel issued the following statement:
“The governor’s order goes in many ways beyond his limited powers under the Texas Disaster Act. In particular, the governor does not have the power to suspend the disaster powers of local authorities that have been expressly granted to them by the legislature. The city also interprets the governor’s order to restrict the city’s ability to regulate the public during a declared disaster, and not to include, or include, the city’s rights as an employer to establish adequate and necessary occupational safety regulations for its employees to restrict.
The mask requirement is in line with CDC guidelines, provides a safe workplace for city employees, including first responders, and therefore will minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and other adverse effects to the city and its employees during this pandemic were .”
Harris County attorney Christian D. Menefee tweeted his support for Mayor Turner’s decision on Monday.
“What the mayor does is incredibly important to save lives,” said Menefee.
The district attorney also considers the mandate to be lawful.
“The governor’s power is just not absolute,” Menefee said. “He’s relying on a law called the Disaster Act, but he’s grossly abusing that law.”
Menefee lets the employees of his office wear a mask if they cannot distance themselves socially.
There’s a similar story next door in Fort Bend County.
“We are now requiring all of our employees to wear masks in all of our offices,” said Carmen P. Turner, Fort Bend County’s tax inspector and collector.
On Tuesday, Fort Bend District Judge KP George called on all district employees to wear masks and to distance themselves socially.
He also called on Governor Abbott to repeal his executive order.
RELATED: Fort Bend Co. Judge Tells Unvaccinated People to “Participate in Your Own Rescue” and Get Vaccinated
“I’m trying to save lives,” said Judge George. “I try to do my job and set hurdles every step of the way, it’s very frustrating.”
Fort Bend County also reintroduced physical distancing with the Commissioners Court on Tuesday.
Judge George said the county will resume health screenings for staff and visitors to the county’s buildings the following week.
KHOU reached out to Governor Abbott’s office Tuesday afternoon to see if the mayor’s masked mandate violates the latest executive order and whether the state will challenge the new rule in court, but has received no feedback.
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