Governor Abbott Establishes Statewide Face Covering Requirement
WHEREAS, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, issued a disaster proclamation on March 13, 2020, certifying under Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the State of Texas; and
WHEREAS, in each subsequent month effective through today, I have renewed the disaster declaration for all Texas counties; and
WHEREAS, the Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Dr. John Hellerstedt, has determined that COVID-19 continues to represent a public health disaster within the meaning of Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; and
WHEREAS, I have issued executive orders and suspensions of Texas laws in response to COVID-19, aimed at using the least restrictive means available to protect the health and safety of Texans and ensure an effective response to this disaster; and
WHEREAS, as Texas reopens in the midst of COVID-19, increased spread is to be expected, and the key to controlling the spread and keeping Texans safe is for all people to consistently follow good hygiene and social-distancing practices; and
WHEREAS, due to recent substantial increases in COVID-19 positive cases, and increases in the COVID-19 positivity rate and hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19, further measures are needed to achieve the least restrictive means for reducing the growing spread of COVID-19, and to avoid a need for more extreme measures; and
WHEREAS, I have joined the medical experts in consistently encouraging people to use face coverings, and health authorities have repeatedly emphasized that wearing face coverings is one of the most important and effective tools for reducing the spread of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, given the current status of COVID-19 in Texas, requiring the use of face coverings is a targeted response that can combat the threat to public health using the least restrictive means, and if people follow this requirement, more extreme measures may be avoided; and
WHEREAS, wearing a face covering is important not only to protect oneself, but also to avoid unknowingly harming fellow Texans, especially given that many people who go into public may have COVID-19 without knowing it because they have no symptoms; and
WHEREAS, the “governor is responsible for meeting … the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters” under Section 418.011 of the Texas Government Code, and the legislature has given the governor broad authority to fulfill that responsibility; and
WHEREAS, failure to comply with any executive order issued during the COVID-19 disaster is an offense punishable under Section 418.173 by fine;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby order the following on a statewide basis effective at 12:01 p.m. on July 3, 2020:
Every person in Texas shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household; provided, however, that this face-covering requirement does not apply to the following:
1. any person younger than 10 years of age;
2. any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
3. any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;
4. 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;
5. any person while the person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
6. 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;
7. any person while the person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water;
8. 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;
9. any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;
10. any person while the person is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience; or
11. 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.
Not excepted from this face-covering requirement is any person attending a protest or demonstration involving more than 10 people and who is not practicing safe social distancing of six feet from other people not in the same household.
TDEM shall maintain on its website a list of counties that are not subject to this face-covering requirement pursuant to paragraph number 11. The list can be found at: www.tdem.texas.gov/ga29.
Following a verbal or written warning for a first-time violator of this face-covering requirement, a person’s second violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250. Each subsequent violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 per violation.
Local law enforcement and other local officials, as appropriate, can and should enforce this executive order, Executive Order GA-28, and other effective executive orders, as well as local restrictions that are consistent with this executive order and other effective executive orders. But no law enforcement or other official may detain, arrest, or confine in jail any person for a violation of this executive order or for related non-violent, non-felony offenses that are predicated on a violation of this executive order; provided, however, that any official with authority to enforce this executive order may act to enforce trespassing laws and remove violators at the request of a business establishment or other property owner.
This executive order hereby prohibits confinement in jail as a penalty for the violation of any face-covering order by any jurisdiction.
Executive Order GA-28 is hereby amended to delete from paragraph number 15 the phrase: “, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.”
The governor may by proclamation amend this executive order or add to the list of people to whom this face-covering requirement does not apply.
This executive order does not supersede Executive Orders GA-10, GA-13, GA-17, GA-19, GA-24, GA-25, GA-27, or GA-28 as amended. This executive order shall remain in effect and in full force until modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the governor.
Given under my hand this the 2nd day of July, 2020.
Governor Greg Abbott