Dallas County Order on Face Coverings: How to Prepare Your Apartment Community
Q1: What is the health and safety policy supposed to say?
At a minimum, that all employees or visitors to the commercial entity’s business premises or other facilities wear face coverings in an area or while 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 policy may also include, but is not required to include, other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as temperature checks or health screening questions.
Q2: What is considered a face covering?
- A non-medical mask, including homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or handkerchiefs. The Order recommends that you do not use medical masks or N-95 respirators, as they are needed for health care providers and first responders.
Q3: When are face coverings required to be worn?
When employees, customers, vendors, or any persons are in an area or performing an activity where six feet of separation is not feasible.
Q4: When are face coverings not required to be worn?
- When exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside;
- While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
- When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk;
- While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment;
- While in a building or engaging in an activity that requires security surveillance or screening such as banks;
- When consuming food or drink.
Q5: How else can I help mitigate the spread of COVID-19?
Keep up the following habits while in public:
- Washing hands before you leave home and when you return;
- Staying at least six feet away from others;
- Avoiding touching nose or face;
- Not using disposable masks more than three times; and
- Washing reusable cloth masks regularly to prevent the spread of the virus.
Q6: How does the Order apply to apartment communities?
- All commercial entities in Dallas County providing goods or services directly to the public are covered by the Order. The Order does not further define “commercial entities” nor state whether the it includes apartment communities. Recommend best practice is to assume that the leasing office and other areas open to the public are covered by the Order.
Q7: What do I need to next?
Develop a Health and Safety Policy, share it with your employees and post it. Consider the following suggested language for your policy:
- All persons 10 years of age and older who come into this area (referring to an enclosed area in the community) must wear a face covering;
- All persons who come into this area must social distance at least six feet apart from other persons not in the same household;
- Do not enter this area if you are feeling sick.
Q8: When and where do I need to post the Health & Safety Policy?
- The Order took effect on June 19, 2020, and will remain in place until August 4, 2020, unless extended. Businesses have five (5) days from June 19, 2020, to comply. The Order requires that the policy be posted in a “conspicuous location” sufficient to provide notices to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements. Suggested locations for posting the notice would include at all entrances and exits, and restrooms.
Q9: What is the penalty for failing to comply with the Order?
- If a commercial entity fails to adopt and implement a Health and Safety Policy as required by the Order, it is subject to a fine not to exceed $500 for each violation. The County may interpret each day the policy is not in place as a separate violation.
Q10: How should I enforce my Health and Safety Policy?
- Section 19.1 of the TAA lease provides that the Owner may make reasonable changes to written rules, and those rules can become effective immediately if the rules are distributed and applicable to all units in the apartment community and do not change dollar amounts on pages 1 or 2 of the lease.
- If you wanted to be able to enforce the rules in your Health and Safety Policy as part of the lease, and you use the TAA lease, you can comply with section 19.1 of the lease. A violation of the rules would then constitute a violation of the lease.
- Most violations of the policy pertaining to the face covering rule would probably begin with a discussion with the violator. In this discussion, you might point out the following:
- We are requiring this rule because we are all in this together. The County Judge has indicated that the transmission of COVID-19 has not dissipated but remains a significant threat to the health and safety of the community. The County Judge has determined that extraordinary emergency measures must be taken to mitigate the effects of this public health emergency and facilitate a response to the public health threat. In an attempt to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, the County Judge has required all businesses to develop and implement a Health and Safety Policy which, at a minimum, must require all employees or visitors of a business premises or facility to wear face coverings.
- Noncompliance would be a lease violation if you adopted your Health and Safety Policy as a rule under the lease. This would allow you to give a lease violation letter to the violator.
Q11: How long will this Order last?
- Until August 4, 2020, unless extended.