Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that requires all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public.

The executive order pertains to counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions. 

Abbott also issued a proclamation that allows mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of 10 or more people.

The proclamation also makes it mandatory that people cannot be in groups of more than 10 people, and they must maintain 6 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,” Abbott said in a news release. “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,” Abbott continued. “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.”

The governor’s executive order reads that every person in Texas needs to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth “when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.”

The order does not apply to children under the age of 10, individuals with medical conditions or disabilities that may prevent wearing a face covering, individuals who are consuming food or drink or seated at a restaurant to eat or drink, individuals who are exercising or engaging in physical activity outdoors while maintaining while maintaining a safe distance from others, individuals driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver.

Also exempt from the order are individuals who are 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 personal care service involving the face, anyone in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water, and any individual who is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience.

Individuals who are voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, as well as anyone who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship are also not required to wear face coverings, but it is strongly encouraged.

The order also allows law enforcement entities to enforce the face covering requirement, however it also prevents them from detaining, arresting, or confining in jail anyone in violation of the order.

Instead, it requires law enforcement entities to issue verbal or written warnings for a first-time violator of face covering requirement, and a fine of no more than $250 on an individual’s second violation, as well as a $250 fine for each subsequent violation.

Abbott also released a video message to coincide with his executive order in which he encourages the public to do their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep their communities safe. The video can be viewed on the governor’s YouTube channel.