Politics

Gov. Abbott Bans Schools And Local Officials From Requiring Masks, Threatens $1,000 Fine

(Photo by Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images)

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Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order Tuesday barring local governments and public schools from mandating facemasks.

The order prevents local governments and officials from attempting to mandate mask wearing starting Friday, subjecting a fine of up to $1,000 for any person or government entity that does not comply. Public schools have through June 4 to continue mandating mask wearing, but after June 4, students, parents, teachers and other staff members will not be required to wear a mask.

“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,” Abbott said in a statement. (RELATED: ‘Too Risky’: Progressives Are Upset CDC Lifted Mask Mandate)

“Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up.”

Government-owned or operated hospitals, jails, state-supported living centers, state Department of Criminal Justice facilities and Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities are exempt from the order. The jails are exempt “consistent with guidance by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards,” according to the order.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated their guidance to allow vaccinated people to forgo their masks in most indoor and outdoor situations.

Abbott lifted the state’s mask mandate in March but allowed businesses to implement restrictions as needed.

“I am ending the statewide mask mandate,” Abbott said in March. “Texans have mastered the habits to keep from getting COVID.”

Abbott imposed the mask mandate in July, months after major cities in the state implemented their own mandate.

COVID-19 cases in the state have steadily decreased since Abbott ended the mask mandate and other restrictions. The state has also reported no new COVID-19 deaths since Abbott made his March announcement.