Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas issued an executive order on Tuesday that will ban local governments and schools from requiring face masks.
The executive order stated that:
No government entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face covering or to mandate that another person wear a face covering; provided, however, that:
a.state supported living centers, government-owned hospitals, and government-operated hospitals may continue to use appropriate policies regarding the wearing of face coverings; and
b.the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, and any county and municipal jails acting consistent with guidance by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards may continue to use appropriate policies regarding the wearing of face coverings.
The order goes on to state that public schools may continue adhering to current mask policies until June 4, at which point the Texas Education Agency will change its guidance so that “no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor may be required to wear a face covering.”
Local governments are also required to end their mask mandates by May 21 and any governments that continue to require mask-wearing could face a fine up to $1,000.
Abbott announced the move in a tweet, saying:
TX is prohibiting mask mandates by gov’t entities.
Starting May 21, local govts attempting to impose mask mandates can be fined up to $1K.
We’re also prohibiting public schools from mandating masks after June 4.
Texans, not gov’t, should decide their best health practices.
“The Lone Star state continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities,” Abbott said in a press release. “Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities.”
The move comes after Texas reached several milestones over the weekend in its fight against COVID-19, months after President Joe Biden had mocked the state’s reopening strategy as “Neanderthal thinking.”
On Sunday, Abbott announced in a tweet:
Today Texas reported:
*0 Covid related deaths–the only time that’s happened since data was tracked in March, 2020.
*the fewest Covid cases in over 13 months
*the lowest 7-day Covid positivity rate ever
*the lowest Covid hospitalizations in 11 months.
As The Daily Wire reported, Biden mocked Texas and Mississippi — both run by Republican governors and legislatures — in early March for their decision to lift mask mandates and reopen their economies.
“I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden said to a reporter when asked about the reopening. “Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms. We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every American, to get every adult American to get a shot.”
“The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your mask,” Biden continued. “Forget it. It still matters… And it’s critical, critical, critical, critical that they follow the science. Wash your hands, hot water, do it frequently. Wear a mask and stay socially distant. And I know you all know that, I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew it.”