“Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order requiring all Texans to wear a face-covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions,” the governor’s order read. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday.
A written or verbal warning can be issued (pdf) to a first-time violator of the mask requirement. A second violation can result in a $250 fine, according to the order.
Local law enforcement officers can issue fines or warnings over masks, but they can’t make arrests.
Abbott’s order requires Texans living in counties with 20 or more positive cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus to wear a covering over the mouth and nose inside a business or another building open to the public. People also have to wear a mask in outdoor public spaces whenever social distancing isn’t possible.
Children younger than 10 years old, people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask, people drinking or eating, or people exercising outside are exempt from the order.
“COVID-19 is not going away,” Abbott said in a video. “In fact, it’s getting worse. Now, more than ever, action by everyone is needed until treatments are available for COVID-19.”
The governor added that “wearing a face-covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of” the virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, while keeping Texas businesses open.
He said, “Texans should wear a face covering for the health of their families, friends, and for all fellow Texans.”
Texas has reported more than 170,000 cases of the virus and 2,500 deaths so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The order from Abbott, a Republican, came after top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged Americans to wear masks to protect themselves and others from the virus.
President Donald Trump said in an interview this week that he is “all for masks,” but added that he doesn’t think it should be nationally mandated.
“If I were in a group of people and I was close, I would. I have. People have seen me wearing one, if I’m in a group of people where we’re not 10 feet away,” the president said. “Usually I’m not in that position and everyone’s tested because I’m the president and they get tested before they see me, [but] if I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely,” he added.