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Posted on: February 22, 2022

Statement Regarding Council Direction Related to Attorney General Letter

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On Feb. 17, 2022, the Office of the Attorney General sent a letter stating their position that the City of Denton’s requirement for individuals who work for the City of Denton to wear face masks in all common areas violates Governor Abbotts’ executive orders and requested the City to rescind the requirement contained in the Nineteenth Order of Council.

In response to this letter, the City filed a lawsuit today to preserve its authority to have Denton employees wear masks during the City’s COVID-19 Emergency Declaration and Nineteenth Order of Council. Denton has taken measures to protect the health and safety of its workforce and the public throughout the pandemic following guidance given by local and national health experts. This lawsuit seeks to preserve Denton's workplace masking to protect Denton's employees and the public’s access to services - especially for those with compromised immune systems or who care for vulnerable family members.

Background

The Nineteenth Order of the City Council of the City of Denton was adopted Jan. 25, 2022 and is effective through 11:59 p.m. on Mar. 31, 2022. The Nineteenth Order requires face coverings for all employees, contractors, and visitors when on the premises of a building, offices, or recreation center owned or operated by the City of Denton. The requirement of wearing a face mask does not apply if covering the nose and mouth poses a significant mental or physical health risk to the individual. 

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has followed the guidance of the local, state, and national health officials, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which currently recommends universal indoor masking for areas of “high” or “substantial” transmission. The CDC currently classifies Denton County as a county with a “high” transmission rate and recommends universal masking.  COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person contact, especially in group settings, and the masking requirement is included in the Nineteenth Order of Council due to this public health concern.

The current face covering requirements have been included in the Orders of Council related to the Declaration of Local Disaster since the Thirteenth Order of Council was adopted on August 12, 2021, and each subsequent Order has included face coverings for city employees in public buildings. 

In addition to face coverings, there are secondary strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus including social distancing, frequent handwashing, testing after exposure, vaccination, and self-isolation when sick.

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