Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order May 18 prohibiting city and county governments and public school districts from mandating or requiring the wearing of masks on their properties, starting June 5.
According to a news release, local governments who try to impose or continue with a mask mandate or requirement that conflicts with the state’s order could be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
Abbott said Texas continues to make progress with increased distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, and the reduction in hospitalizations and virus positivity rates in larger metro areas.
The state early in March significantly rolled back restrictions prompted by the coronavirus outbreak in spring 2020, as vaccine distribution widened. The federal government recently approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine on adolescents ages 12-15.
“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.
“Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities.”
Mask-wearing will still be allowed in government-run hospitals, state-run living centers, municipal and county jails, and facilities associated with the state’s Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice departments.
North East Independent School District said on its social media accounts it would comply with the new state order, but that any employees, students or visitors to NEISD facilities may keep wearing a mask if they wish to do so.