Update Friday, July 3, 2020: Eastland County is on the list of those counties that have opted out of the face-covering requirement due to their low COVID-19 case count. www.tdem.texas.tov/ga29
Governor Greg Abbott today issued an order for all Texans to wear a face-covering beginning at 12:01 p.m. July 3, 2020. However, he did offer counties with fewer than 20 positive COVID-19 cases the ability to opt-out of the face covering requirement once the county judge has filed an attestation form with Texas Division of Emergency Management. A list of counties that are not subject to the face-covering requirements will be maintained online at www.tdem.texas.tov/ga29.
Where face-coverings are required, following a verbal or written warning for a first-time violator, a second violation and any subsequent violations shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250. The order prohibits confinement in jail as a penalty.
The face-covering requirements do not apply to:
- any person younger than 10 years of age;
- any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
- any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;
- any person while the person is (a) exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, and (b) maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household;
- any person while the person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
- any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal-care service involving the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal;
- any person while the person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water;
- any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;
- any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing face covering is strongly encouraged;
- any person while the person is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience; or
- any person in a county (a) that meets the requisite criteria promulgated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) regarding minimal cases of COVID-19, and (b) whose county judge has affirmatively opted-out of this face-covering requirement by filing with TDEM the required face-covering attestation form–provided, however, that wearing a face covering is highly recommended, and every county is strongly encouraged to follow these face-covering standards.
Governor Abbott also amended Executive Order GA-28 to limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people or less unless it is approved by the mayor of the city or the county judge in unincorporated areas.
The following is the press release from Governor Abbott’s office:
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions. 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.
“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,” said Governor Abbott. “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. Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe. We all have a responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices, we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans.”
Additionally, the Governor released a new video message to coincide with his Executive Order, encouraging Texans to do their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep their communities safe. The video can be downloaded at this link and can also be viewed on YouTube.