Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is mandating all city employees to start wearing masks beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 4, according to the city’s public information officer Mary Benton.

The mandate was issued as part of a memo that went out to employees Monday.

Employees are not required to wear a mask if they are alone in their office or cubicle if it is six feet away from the next cubicle or work area.

The PIO said there will be the usual exemptions for health and religious reasons.

Turner is also encouraging visitors to wear a mask when visiting city of Houston facilities, Benton said.

The mandate is for city employees only. Turner can’t issue a mask mandate for the city due to Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.

In May, Abbott issued an executive order preventing government entities from making masks mandatory. Officials who continue to require masks could be fined up to $1,100.

Houston Health Director Stephen Williams issued the following statement on the updated mask guidance for City of Houston employees.

“I support Mayor Turner’s updated guidance that City of Houston employees wear face coverings while around others in City buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

“The Delta variant is much more contagious and it’s driving a dangerous increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“Although rare, data show that fully vaccinated people who become infected by Delta may spread it just as easily as a people who are not vaccinated.

“The good news is being fully vaccinated nearly eliminates the risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 and significantly reduces the chance of contracting it.

“Until enough of the population is fully vaccinated to offer broader protection, we must wear face coverings in public indoor settings to slow the spread of this aggressive variant.

“Mayor Turner’s action today will not only ensure city government continues to function but also help protect City of Houston employees, their families, and Houstonians they come into contact with at the workplace. It will also help ensure City employees are able to earn a living by not missing work.”