Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Tuesday banning mask mandates in schools across the Lone Star State beginning in June.
Under the Republican’s new order, government entities such as counties, cities, school districts, and health officials are barred from mandating masks anywhere unless in publicly funded nursing homes, hospitals, or jails. Any local governments that continue to require face coverings outside of areas where there are exceptions could be fined up to $1000 for ignoring the order beginning May 21.
“This executive order shall supersede any face-covering requirement imposed by any local governmental entity or official, except as explicitly provided…,” the order states.
Abbott also ordered the Texas Education Agency to “revise” its masking guidance starting on June 4 to reinforce that “no student,
teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor may be required to wear a face-covering” on public school property.
“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 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.”
Issuing an Executive Order to prohibit mask mandates by government entities.
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) May 18, 2021
On Sunday, Abbott announced that Texas reported no COVID-19 deaths weeks after President Joe Biden denounced Texas and other states for removing their mask mandates a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Other celebrities and public figures were quick to criticize Abbott’s decision and claim it would kill people, such as failed Democrat candidate Beto O’Rourke.
Two weeks after Abbott’s reopening orders, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas decreased by at least 21 percent, and the rolling average number of daily new cases saw a 36 percent drop. COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers also began to drop nationwide as the vaccine rollout in many states continued to expand.