HOUSTON – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide executive order requiring Texans to wear masks or face coverings in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions. The order went into effect on Friday, July 3 at noon.
This public safety alert went out Friday shortly after noon:
In the release, Abbott said, “wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
“We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces,” he said.
The order requires every person in Texas to wear a mask or face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a “commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, whenever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person who is not of the same household.”
The order specifically states that people attending a protest or demonstration involving more than 10 people who are not socially distant are not exempt from the order.
“The Governor also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people, and making it mandatory that, with certain exceptions, people cannot be in groups larger than ten and must maintain six feet of social distancing from others,” officials wrote in a press release.
Abbott’s order came as Texas continues to see a massive surge in new coronavirus cases. There were nearly 8,000 new cases reported in the state Thursday bringing the state total to 175,9777 cases. The state is at a 13.32% positivity rate, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and as of Thursday afternoon, 7,382 people were hospitalized with the virus which is a record high.
Exceptions to the order
- Children under the age of 10
- Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering
- Any person consuming food or drink or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink
- Any person that is exercising or engaging in physical activities outdoors and is maintaining safe social distancing from people who are not part of their household
- Any person who is driving alone or with passengers who are in the same household as the driver
- Any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the covering during security surveillance, screening or need for specific access to the face (like while visiting a bank or obtaining personal care involving the face).
- Any person in a pool, lake or similar body of water
- Any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher or actively administering an election (but wearing a mask is strongly encouraged)
- Any person who is actively providing access to religious worship (but wearing a mask is strongly encouraged)
- Any person while the person is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
- Any person who meets the criteria laid out by the Texas Division of Emergency Management regarding minimal cases of COVID-19 and whose county judge has opted out of the face-covering requirement (but wearing a mask is strongly encouraged)
Punishment if the order is violated
If someone is found not wearing a mask or face covering in violation of the order:
- A first-time violator will get a verbal or written warning
- For a second offense, the person could face a fine not exceeding $250
- With each subsequent violation, the person will face a fine of upto $250
- The order does prohibit officials from arresting or jailing anyone who is found in violation of the order
Read the full executive order below: