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.
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Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.
There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.
All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.
🗓 All weekend
Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities
All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park
This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.
6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703
This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.
10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park
Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.
Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.
11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway