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Gov. Abbott issues statewide mask order

Governor Abbott signed an executive order Thursday requiring people to wear masks in public spaces in counties with 20 or more active positive COVID-19 cases.
Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via REUTERS
Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via REUTERS(Austin American-Statesman)
Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 3:30 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2020 at 10:55 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) - Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order Thursday requiring people to wear masks in public spaces in counties with 20 or more active positive COVID-19 cases. The order goes into effect at 12:01 p.m. on Friday, July 3.

Counties with fewer than 20 active cases can be exempted - if they choose to opt out. Counties that are approved to be exempt will be listed here on this page.

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.

The governor said if a person is caught not wearing face masks or covering, they can be given a warning. If that person is caught not wearing a mask again, they can get a penalty of no more than $250. Any violation after the first two is punishable by a $250 fine.

The face mask mandate does NOT apply to the following:

  • any person younger than 10 years of age;
  • any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  • any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;
  • 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;
  • any person while the person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
  • 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;
  • any person while the person is in a swimming 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 face-covering is strongly encouraged;
  • any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face-covering is strongly encouraged;
  • any person while the person is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience; or
  • 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.

Not excepted from this face-covering requirement is any person attending a protest or demonstration involving more than 10 people and who is not practicing safe social distancing of six feet from other people not in the same household.

“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,” said Governor Abbott. “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.”

Gov. Abbott released an online video that explains his executive order and encourages people to wear masks.

You can read the governor’s executive order here.

Copyright 2020 KBTX. All rights reserved.

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