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Texas Governor Abbott Requires Face Coverings in Public

Texas Governor Abbott Requires Face Coverings in Public

July 2, 2020

Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-29 requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces, with limited exceptions. Additionally, Governor Abbott issued a proclamation amending Executive Order GA-28 to provide Texas mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over ten 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. 

Executive Order GA-29

Effective 12:01 p.m. on July 3, 2020, face coverings must be worn by every person in Texas when inside a commercial entity or building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, whenever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from a person who is not in the same household.  This requirement does not apply to any person:

  • under the age of ten;
  • with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  • while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;
  • while exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activities outdoors and maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household;
  • while driving alone or with passengers who are in the same household as the driver;
  • obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security, surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal;
  • while the person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water;
  • who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, however wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;
  • who is actively providing or accessing religious worship, however wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;
  • while the person is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience; or
  • who is 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 the TDEM the required face-covering attestation form, however wearing a face covering is highly recommended.   

First-time violators of the face-covering requirement will receive a verbal or written warning.  Following a verbal or written warning, a person’s second and subsequent violations will be publishable by a fine not to exceed $250.  Local law enforcement and other local officials can enforce Executive Order GA-29 and may act to enforce trespassing laws and remove violators at the request of a business establishment or other property owner.  

Amended Executive Order GA-28

Also effective at 12:01 p.m. on July 3, 2020, with certain exceptions, outdoor gatherings in excess of ten people are prohibited unless the mayor of the city in which the gathering is held or the county judge in the case of a gathering in an unincorporated area, approves the gathering.  If approved, certain conditions and restrictions can be imposed.  People should maintain six feet of social distancing from those not in their group.  This prohibition does not apply to:

  • (a) any services listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 3.1 or any subsequent version; (b) religious services, including those conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship; (c) local government operations, including county and municipal governmental operations relating to licensing, permitting, recordation, and document-filing services, as determined by the local government; (d) child-care services; (e) youth camps; and (f) recreational sports programs for youths and adults;
  • (a) professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events; (b) swimming pools; (c) water parks; (d) museums and libraries; (e) zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities; and (f) rodeos and equestrian events; and
  • amusement parks.