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Government

Abbott Bars Government Entities From Requiring Face Masks

Pandemic Early Voting
LM Otero
/
AP
Wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, voters line up to cast their ballot during early voting in April in Mansfield, Texas. Under Gov. Abbott's new order, counties won't be able to require masks at voting sites.

Texas government entities are no longer allowed to mandate masks, Gov. Greg Abbott announced in an executive order on Tuesday.

The restriction precludes counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities and government officials from requiring mask-wearing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government entities that don’t adhere to this new restriction will be subject to a $1,000 fine.

"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 press release.

Public schools are permitted to continue following mask-mandates for now, but no student, teacher or parent will be required to wear a mask in public schools beginning June 4.

Hospitals and long-term carecenters supported by the state are exempt from this order. State, county and juvenile corrections facilities are also exempt.

The order also reiterated Abbott's March 2 executive order, which lifted all restrictions for businesses to operate, superseding any orders by a local official.

"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 said. "We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans' liberty to choose whether or not they mask up."

Got a tip? Email Haya Panjwani at hpanjwani@kera.org. Follow Haya on Twitter @hayapanjw.

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