HOUSTON – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday requiring Texans to wear masks or face coverings in public and in businesses. The order will go into effect Friday at noon and has few exceptions. It is applicable to those Texans who live in counties with more than 20 active cases of coronavirus.
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)
If Texans are found in violation of the rule, they will be penalized, first with a verbal or written warning and then with fines, the order rules.
Notably, Abbott’s order states that people who are protesting or demonstrating in groups of more than 10 people will not be exempt from the executive order.