LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Governor Greg Abbott has issued a new executive order requiring all Texans to wear a face covering in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases- with some exceptions.
This new order is set to take effect at 12:01 p.m. on July 3.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management is maintaining a list of counties confirmed to be exempt from this order, but as of 4:30 p.m. on July 2, no counties were listed. According to TDEM’s website, counties must have 20 or less active COVID-19 cases, but also county judges must submit an exemption form, “affirmatively opting out,” before being approved for exemption by the State.
According to the Governor’s order, “Every person in Texas shall wear a 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, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household,” with the following exceptions:
1. any person younger than 10 years of age.
2. any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.
3. any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink.
4. any person while the person is (a) exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, and (b) maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household.
5. any person while the person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver.
6. any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal.
7. any person while the person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water.
8. any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poli watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged.
9. any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged.
10. any person while the person is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience.
11. any person in a county (a) that meets the requisite criteria promulgated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) regarding minimal cases of COVID-19, and (b) whose county judge has affirmatively opted-out of this face-covering requirement by filing with TDEM the required face-covering attestation form—provided, however, that wearing a face covering is highly recommended, and every county is strongly encouraged to follow these face-covering standards.
Specifically, the Governor states in his new order that people attending demonstrations or protests “involving more than 10 people and who is not practicing safe social distancing of six feet from other people not in the same household” are not exempt from this face covering requirement.
The order states that following a verbal or written warning for a first-time violator of this face covering requirement, a person’s second violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250. Each subsequent violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 per violation.
The Governor’s order authorizes local law enforcement to enforce this new order, but no law enforcement may detain or arrest any person for a violation. Officials may, however, enforce trespassing laws and remove violators at the request of businesses.
The Governor adds that he may, by proclamation, amend this order or “add to the list of people to whom this face-covering requirement does not apply.”
The Governor provided the following statement with his new order, saying “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. Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe. We all have a responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices, we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans,” Abbott said.
You can read a full copy of the Governor’s Executive Order here.