Gov. Greg Abbott Signs Order That Will Require Many Texans To Wear Masks In Public Spaces As COVID-19 Cases Spike

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Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed an executive order requiring all counties with more than 20 confirmed coronavirus cases to require masks be worn in public.

The move comes as Texas recorded its highest single-day increase of positive coronavirus cases, according to ABC13. At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the state had reported 8,076 new cases, the outlet reported.

“The Governor also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people, and making it mandatory that, with certain exceptions, people cannot be in groups larger than ten and must maintain six feet of social distancing from others,” officials said in a press release obtained by KPRC2.

Abbott said “wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” KPRC2 reported. (RELATED: Group Of Texas Bar Owners Sue State Closures Amid Coronavirus Case Surge)

“We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces,” his statement continued.

The executive order is a change of pace for Abbott, who has historically emphasized his stance that penalties cannot be applied to citizens who don’t wear masks.

“We strongly recommend that everyone wear a mask,” Abbott said at an April 27 press conference where he announced his plans for reopening Texas, according to the Texas Tribune. “However, it’s not a mandate. And we make clear that no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine.”