Gov. Abbott issues executive order ‘providing clarity and uniformity’ on Texas’ COVID response

TEXAS – As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday combining several existing COVID-19 executive orders to promote statewide uniformity and certainty in the state’s COVID-19 response.

Here’s what you need to know,

· Governmental entity cannot require COVID-19 vaccine.

· Governmental entity, including school districts, cannot require masks.

· There are no COVID-19 operating limits for any business.

“Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19,” said Abbott. “The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates. Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19. They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities. Vaccines, which remain in abundant supply, are the most effective defense against the virus, and they will always remain voluntary – never forced – in the State of Texas.”

Abbott says Executive Order GA-38 restricts any state or local agency and any public or private entity that is receiving or will receive public funds through any means from mandating masks or requiring proof of vaccination.

According to the order, imposing any conflicting or inconsistent limitation by a local governmental entity or official constitutes a “failure to comply with” this executive order, which is subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirements shall continue to apply:

“No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no government official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that another person wear a face covering; provided, however, that the state-supported living centers, government-owned hospitals, and government-operated hospitals may continue to use appropriate policies regarding the wearing of face coverings; and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, and any county and municipal jails acting consistently with guidance by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards may continue to use appropriate policies regarding the wearing of face coverings,” the order read.

At Craft Burger in Katy, Owner Shannen Tune says most of his staff is vaccinated and they wear a mask at work. He says it feels like Deja Vu with the recent rise in cases.

“It seems like we made some progress for a moment then we see this new Delta Variant and I feel like every couple of weeks there is something new,” Tune said.

The order also mandates that all hospitals licensed under the Texas Health and Safety Code and all Texas state-run hospitals submit daily reports of hospital bed capacity to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Every public or private entity that administers a COVID-19 test is also required to report the results, regardless of the result is positive or negative.

The order stated there are no COVID-19 related operating limits for any business or other establishments at this time.

Safety is at the top of the list for Masroor Fatany. He’s the franchise owner for Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Katy.

“We are just trying to listen the news and listen to the experts to try and take the best force of action for our customers and employees,” Fatany said.

“In areas where the COVID-19 transmission rate is high, individuals are encouraged to follow the safe practices they have already mastered, such as wearing face coverings over the nose and mouth wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household, but no person may be required by any jurisdiction to wear or to mandate the wearing of a face covering,” the order read.

The order comes as several Texas counties are recording rising rates of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

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