AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring all Texans to wear a mask in counties with more than 20 active COVID-19 cases. The executive order went into effect just after noon Friday.
We spoke with Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas on the subject. He said the county is going to do everything it can with verbal warnings at this point.
Sheriff Thomas said Gov. Abbott was put in a difficult situation and, in turn, that decision was pushed down to the cities and counties to make sure citizens are safe.
“Just putting it out there, this went to effect and be aware of it. Just tell them, ‘Hey you need to put a mask on.’ We are not going to force somebody to do that, we are asking them to do that, just like the order says. Give them a verbal warning,” said Sheriff Thomas.
Sheriff Thomas said all Potter County deputies have to wear masks as leaders of the community.
Sheriff Thomas said his concern is with mask compliance at businesses out in the county, but because there are few, he is not worried.
We also spoke with Amarillo Police Department Sgt. Carla Burr. She said she wants people to voluntarily comply with the order.
Sgt. Burr said if the only reason that someone is calling APD is because is someone not wearing a mask, they are not going to respond to those calls. Sgt. Burr said it is a difficult situation, but APD is just following the governor.
“The governor issued the order. We’ve been tasked with enforcement,” said Sgt. Burr. “So if we are out and if there is an issue where we are asked to, you know, talk to people about it, we’re going to try to get people to voluntarily comply.”
The first time someone violates the mask order, they will get a warning. After that, they could face a fine of as much as $250. Although jail is not an option.
Gov. Abbott also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose some restrictions on outdoor gatherings involving more than 10 people.
Some of those who do not have to wear masks include kids younger than 10, people with medical conditions, those eating, and people who are exercising outdoors. Click here to read the full list.
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