Face coverings now mandatory in Texas; Officials speak on new order

Ashley Inge

Governor Abbott made an announcement on Thursday, July 2, establishing a statewide face covering requirement.

The Executive Order went into effect at 12:01 p.m. on Friday, July 3, and now requires 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.

Abbott 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.

"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.”

The first violation of the new mandate is a warning, while subsequent violations are subject to a penalty not to exceed $250.

“We are of course encouraging compliance and using face masks out at Oakdale Park where we have an office, and where we interact with the public,” said Michael Leamons, Glen Rose city administrator.

Governor Abbott stated that, “No one can ever be put in jail for violating this safe practice.”

There are some exclusions to the face covering rule including:

•Children under the age of 10

•A person with a medical disability that prevents wearing a face covering

•When you are eating or drinking

•When exercising or outdoors engaging in physical activity

•While driving alone, or with passengers of the same household

•While voting, administering a vote or administering an election

•While swimming in or on a body of water

•While giving a speech for an audience

“We are doing what we can do. We are of course following the governor’s mandate,” said Glen Rose Mayor Pam Miller. “We have encouraged all of the businesses to make sure they are doing that and right now, that’s what we’re doing at this point. There may come a time when we have to start issuing tickets and hopefully not, but we are just doing our best to follow the governor’s orders.”