HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s order that required all residents over the age of 10 to wear face masks in public will now not carry a $1,000 fine, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.
During his news conference on Monday, Abbott said that his administration “strongly recommended” that residents wear a mask but said his executive order superseded any local order that carried a fine for not wearing a mask.
Last week, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order requiring people to wear some form of mask or face a $1,000 fine and a possible 180 days in jail. Her order started today and was to be in place for 30 days.
KPRC 2 was able to confirm that the county order is still in place but there would be no fines imposed for people who don’t comply with the order. It’s unclear if someone could still receive jail time.
Hidalgo previously said the order would help keep people safe as officials work to reopen the county.
Her decision caused a lot of backlash within the community, with one local doctor filing a lawsuit that claims, “Hidalgo has exceeded her authority by implementing orders more restrictive than those of Gov. Greg Abbott, which take precedence.”
After Abbott’s press conference Monday, Hidalgo issued the following statement:
“Harris County is the epicenter for the Covid-19 crisis in Texas and face coverings are one of the only weapons we have to stop the spread of the virus and reopen safely. We have a face covering order today and we’ll still have a face covering order tomorrow. In practical terms, the governor’s order doesn’t change much because, like every order we’ve issued so far, we’d made it clear that the priority was education. The fine was there as a signal of how vital mask wearing is, and in many ways, the community got that message. It’s been disappointing to see folks politicize public health, and I hope this means they’ll go back to focusing on health and safety instead of politics. As we have in the past, we will amend this order to conform with the governor’s," Hidalgo wrote.
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