Governor Greg Abbott Issues Statewide Mask Requirement, Limits Gatherings
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday issued an executive order requiring Texans in counties with more than 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to wear face coverings in commercial buildings open to the public or public spaces where social distancing is difficult or impossible.
Executive Order GA 29 was filed with the Office of the Secretary of the State at 2:30 PM Thursday. It goes into effect at 12:01 PM Friday, July 3.
In a video statement, Gov. Abbott said the mandate is meant to help slow the spread of COVID-19 without shutting the state down or mandating stay-at-home policies.
Page 2 of GA 29 lists a number of exemption to the mandate, but specifies that people attending protests or demonstrations involving more than 10 people and not practicing social distancing are not exempt.
"Following a verbal or written warning for a first-time violator of this facecovering requirement, a person’s second violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250," GA 29 reads. "Each subsequent violation shall be punishable by a fine not to
exceed $250 per violation."
"[N]o law enforcement or other official may detain, arrest, or confine in jail any person for a violation of this executive order or for related non-violent, non-felony offenses that are predicated on a violation of this executive order; provided, however, that any official with authority to enforce this executive order may act to enforce trespassing laws and remove violators at the request of a business establishment or other property owner. This executive order hereby prohibits confinement in jail as a penalty for the violation of any face-covering order by any jurisdiction." - GA 29
In addition to today's executive order, Gov. Abbott issued a proclamation granting mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.
News of the governor's mandates came shortly after Temple Mayor Tim Davis announced that he would propose a mask mandate to the Temple City Council at a Thursday evening meeting.