On Thursday (July 2), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide order requiring Texans to wear make or face coverings in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. Abbott’s decision comes as Texas added 8,000 new positive cases of COVID-19 to its total as the state has had over 175,000 confirmed cases and cases have spiked in the last two weeks.
The order goes into effect on Friday, July 3 at noon.
“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,” Abbott wrote in a press release.
He added, “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.”
The order goes for any Texan who is 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.”
People who are attending a protest or demonstration involving more than 10 people who are not social distant also have to adhere to 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.
Here are 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 or 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)
Punishments if you violate 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