Texas Governor Bans Local Governments, Schools From Requiring Face Masks
This past Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order banning governmental entities in Texas — including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials — from requiring or mandating mask-wearing. Public schools will no longer be allowed to force masks on people beginning on June 4th. After this day, no student, faculty, or visitor can be required to wear a mask while on campus.
With the new order, local governments or officials that attempt to force masks in any way that conflicts with the Executive Order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
“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,” said Governor Abbott. “Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up.”
This comes after other recent relaxations of COVID-19 restrictions in Texas. After restricting the freedoms Texans en-masse for a year, Abbot lifted the statewide mask mandate and other restrictions about 2 months ago. Since then, Texas has reported 0 COVID-related deaths for the first time since March 2020.
While the order is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, many believe it does not go far enough. Places exempt from the order include state-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, and county and municipal jails.
Pushback from Republican governors on forced masking and other draconian measures has steadily grown around the country. Florida Governor DeSantis has also recently taken action, signing an executive order pardoning all COVID-related charges and arrests.