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(Emma Freer/Austonia)

Travis County commissioners voted to require masks in county facilities. Violators may be charged with criminal trespass.

Travis County commissioners unanimously approved a new ordinance today that requires people over 10 years old to wear face coverings when inside county facilities.


Those who refuse to comply can be arrested and charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail sentence of up to 180 days.

"I think this is a prudent policy," Commissioner Brigid Shea said, adding that she thinks other government entities and businesses should follow suit.

The ordinance does not include correctional facilities, such as the Travis County Jail or juvenile detention facilities. County courtrooms under the purview of the Texas Supreme Court and other government entities are also exempt.

If people do not have a face covering, the county will provide one. For those unable to wear one, such as because of a medical condition, the county will try to serve them over the phone or online.

There are very few places where local governments can enforce mask mandates, per an order from Gov. Greg Abbott.

Former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said that being unable to enforce wider mask mandates is "painful" during a virtual news conference yesterday, and places the burden on individuals to make good decisions about how to keep themselves and their communities safe.

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