Statewide NewsGovernor Abbott Walks Back Face Mask Mandate, Says Businesses Can Be Fined

Although his previous order prohibited localities from imposing fines for not wearing face masks, Abbott now says that businesses can be fined for failing to mandate their use.
June 17, 2020
Following an executive order issued in Bexar County that will impose a fine on businesses that do not require employees and customers to wear face masks, Governor Abbott said in an interview with KWTX that such a fine has been an enforcement option for local governments to take all along.

Under the executive order issued by Abbott on April 27, “Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.”

Given that the text of the order does not explicitly specify that only individuals are protected from fines, local governments have—until today—interpreted the order as barring any fine mandating face masks.

Abbott never indicated to local officials that they had the authority to require businesses to mandate face masks with the force of a fine.

In the KWTX interview, Abbott claimed that “there has been a plan in place all along” to allow businesses to be fined by local governments for not requiring face masks. 

The Texan Tumbler

“It turned out earlier today that the county judge in Bexar County finally figured that out. They finally read what we had written,” said Abbott.

“We want to make sure that individual liberty is not infringed upon by government, and hence government cannot require individuals to wear masks,” he continued. “However, pursuant to my plan, local governments can require stores and businesses to require masks.”

Abbott emphasized that “no Texan can be put in jail for failing to follow these standards,” but did not specify if Texans can be jailed for failing to pay fines for refusing to mandate face coverings on their private property.

The lack of clarity on the subject of mandating businesses to mandate face masks is just the latest in a growing number of mixed messages sent by state officials amidst the pandemic.

With the Bexar County order receiving the approval of the governor, other local officials who have been calling for face mask mandates will likely follow suit.

During his interview with KWTX, Abbott also noted that several variables could have played a role in the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, including gatherings for Memorial Day and the large crowds during the recent protests.

“We do know there have been reports out of Houston that about two dozen or so police officers who were involved in policing the protests have tested positive for COVID-19. We don’t know more information about that yet,” said Abbott.

The governor reiterated the main point from his press conference yesterday that state hospitals are prepared for any surges in coronavirus cases.


Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

Get “KB's Hot Take”

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.

Related Posts