Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday requiring all Texans to wear masks "over the nose and mouth" in public spaces. It applies to counties with at least 20 confirmed COVID-19 cases and reverses the governor's previous policies.
"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," Abbott said in a statement.
Repeat offenders, after receiving a verbal or written warning for violating the mask requirement, may be fined up to $250. Local law enforcement and other local officials "can and should enforce" the mandate, according to the order.
The governor also granted mayors and county judges the ability to prohibit outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.
Texas reportedly ranks sixth among states with the most rapid increase in cases per capita. Travis County surpassed 10,000 cases yesterday and is preparing the Austin Convention Center as a field hospital in case area hospitals are overwhelmed.
The governor's order provides some exceptions to the mask mandate, including:
- People who are under 10 years old or have a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask.
- While eating, exercising outside, swimming, voting or driving alone or with a member of the same household.
This order represents a reversal for Abbott, who previously refused local jurisdictions the right to mandate masks and limit gatherings despite repeated pleas that he do so.
Earlier this week, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe sent Abbott a letter asking the state to enforce mandatory masking, prohibit social gatherings of more than 10 people, roll back business occupancy and allow local officials to issue stay-home orders as needed.
"In summary, the rapid increase in cases has outstripped our ability to track, measure and mitigate the spread of disease," he wrote.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, along with the mayors of eight other large Texas cities, also sent Abbott a letter, on June 16, asking for the authority to impose a mask requirement.
The next day, Abbott allowed local jurisdictions to require businesses to mandate masks among employees and customers.
This story is developing and has been updated.
- Austin will require masks at businesses - austonia ›
- Thousands petition HEB to require masks - austonia ›
- Salons, gyms on track to reopen; Abbott encourages masks, social ... ›
- Fabric face coverings will be 'longstanding requirement' in Austin ... ›
- University of Texas at Austin will require masks in campus buildings ... ›
- Austin mayor issues new orders amid COVID-19 surge - austonia ›
- Abbott: 'The worst is yet to come' in Texas COVID surge - austonia ›
- Abbott on COVID: 'The last step that would ever be taken is to lock Texans back down' - austonia ›
Austin FC has reportedly signed 20-year old Slovenian star Žan Kolmanič for a cool $1.8 million.
- Austin FC announces designated player Cecilio Dominguez - austonia ›
- Austin FC signs Designated Player Tomas Pochettino - austonia ›
- Austin FC nabs Pereira in first pick of MLS SuperDraft - austonia ›
Citing a 77% decline in new COVID cases nationally since early January, Dr. Martin Makary, a surgical oncologist and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, expects COVID-19 "will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life."
- Vaccine week 11: 31,250 doses headed to Austin, delayed ... ›
- Austin vaccine recipients feel relief, guilt amid slow rollout - austonia ›
- Everything we know about Austin's COVID vaccine rollout - austonia ›
The long-term damage caused by Winter Storm Uri is becoming more and more evident, and Austin's bat population is no exception.
- Rare sighting of bobcats in south Austin caught on camera - austonia ›
- Austinites seek quarantine companions as animal shelters work to ... ›
- Watch the bats - austonia ›