On Thursday, July 2, 2202, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that requires all Texans to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth in public spaces, with exceptions. According to the order, this applies to residents of counties with more than 20 positive cases of COVID-19. This includes Orange County.
Restrictions on outdoor gatherings are also included in the order. Gatherings can no longer be over 10 people and, with certain exceptions, groups over 10 must maintain six feet of social distancing.
The mandate comes one day after Texas hit another grim milestone in COVID-19 cases and reported 8,076 new cases on Wednesday, making it the highest one-day total in the state since the start of the pandemic.
Abbott said in the announcement, “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. 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.”
According to Abbott, the decision came after a surge in cases across Texas, with the Governor saying the daily number of positive tests statewide has quadrupled in a month – to 6,000 positives a day.
The Governor says that the consequences for violations are:
- First Violation – A warning
- Violations after will include penalties up to $250.
No one will be jailed for violations, however.
“Local law enforcement has the authority to enforce this safety standard,” says Abbott in his video announcement. “Just like they do when enforcing seat belt standards.”
Abbott’s order is effective as of 12:01 p.m. Friday, July 3, 2020.
Abbott had previously resisted calls for such a statewide requirement but allowed local governments to require businesses to mandate masks.