AUSTIN (KAMR/KCIT) — Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring all Texans to wear a face-covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces, with few exceptions.

That order, effective at 12:01 p.m. on Friday, June 3, applies to residents in counties with more than 20 active positive COVID-19 cases.

According to Abbott, the decision came after a surge in cases across Texas, with the Governor saying the daily number of positive tests statewide has quadrupled in a month — to 6,000 positives a day.

The face-covering order 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 personalcare 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 poli 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.

“COVID-19 is not going away. In fact, it’s getting worse.”

Gov. Greg abbott

Gov. Abbott also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of more than 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.”

Gov. Greg Abbott

The Governor said the consequences for violations are:

  1. First Violation — A warning
  2. Violations after will include penalties up to $250.

No one will be jailed for violations.

“Local law enforcement has the authority to enforce this safety standard,” says Abbott in his video announcement. “Just like they do when enforcing seat belt standards.”

Counties who have exemption status from the Executive Order will be listed here after county officials submit the exemption form.

To see a list of active cases county by county from the State of Texas, click here.

Counties with fewer than 20 active COVID-19 cases as of the evening of Thursday, July 2, 2020. Active cases data from Texas Department of State Health Services. (Not pictured: Hardeman County with two active cases).

In Wednesday’s City of Amarillo COVID-19 briefing, Public Health Authority Dr. Scott Milton said masking is effective and he has seen that time after time in our hospitals with personal protection equipment.

“Please keep that in mind, I think when we’re out in the community through the fourth weekend is to try to keep your distance from people and try to wear a mask because this is a highly contagious virus and it clearly helps,” said Dr. Milton.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center’S Dr. Steven Berk, the School of Medicine dean and an infectious disease doctor, said everyone needs to wear a mask.

“…What’s made this such a terrible infectious disease different than almost any others, is that there’s so many people walking around who don’t think they’re sick, but they can give the infection to somebody else. And that’s why we have to tell everybody you have to wear masks there’s no way around this.” contributed to this report.