Bell County Judge David Blackburn issued Directive 7 on Wednesday, June 24th that mandates the use of face coverings. It comes after the number of COVID-19 cases in the county has steadily increased. Tuesday, there were 41 cases and an eleventh person died from the virus.

“If you cannot guarantee you can be six feet away from another person, put a mask on,” said Dr. Amanda Chadwell with the Bell County Public Health District.

Starting Monday, June 29th, all businesses in Bell County must require employees and volunteers to have a face covering when in an area where six feet of separation from other people is not possible.

The directive also says that businesses must require all visitors, contractors, and vendors to wear face coverings.

“I think it’s important that we as a County work hard toward keeping everyone safe, keeping everyone healthy. Both for the exchange of commerce, but also just taking care of each other,” said Temple Mayor Tim Davis.

People are not required to wear face coverings in public, according to the directive, but it is strongly recommended for everyone 10 years old and up when you can’t stay six feet or more away from other people.

“My hope is that common sense will prevail,” said Bell County Judge David Blackburn.

You can read the entire directive here, including the exceptions to wearing a face covering:

Bell County also quoted the CDC recommendations that face coverings are only one line of defense. People should continue to wash their hands often, stay six feet away from others, avoid touching your face, do not use disposable masks more than three times, and wash reusable cloth masks regularly.