Statewide NewsGov. Abbott Doubles Down on Prohibiting Local Government Mask Mandates

Gov. Abbott issued a new executive order that threatens to fine local governments that continue to impose face mask requirements.
May 18, 2021
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In a new executive order signed on Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott is prohibiting other governmental entities in Texas from issuing their own face covering requirements.

The order specifically prohibits any “governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority” from requiring a person to wear a mask.

An exception is made in Abbott’s order so that “public schools may continue to follow policies regarding the wearing of face coverings” as recommended by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) through June 4, 2021.

But the order requires the TEA to “revise its guidance such that, effective 11:59 p.m. on June 4, 2021, no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor may be required to wear a face covering.”

Exceptions are made for other certain governmental entities as well — such as state-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.

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Local governments or officials who attempt to impose such a requirement are subject to a fine of up to $1,000 under the executive order.

“The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities,” said Abbott in a press release.

“Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities.”

Abbott, who has reversed course on the matter several times, issued a statewide mask mandate last July, which remained in place until he lifted it in March along with his other COVID-19 restrictions.

Many Democrats criticized Abbott for the change in policy saying it was premature, but the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Texas continued the downward trajectory it was headed without any significant bump.

Despite his previous order prohibiting mask requirements, some local governments have sought to continue mask requirements within their jurisdictions or for their employees.

Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the City of Austin for continuing to impose a mask requirement, but litigation in the case is still ongoing, with the Travis County court siding with Austin for the time being.

“We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up,” said Abbott.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.

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