Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issues executive order prohibiting government entities from mandating masks

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Friday, May 21, 2021
Gov. Abbott responds to criticism over mask mandate
Texas Governor Greg Abbott spoke briefly to ABC13 and responded to the recent criticism over his decision to rescind the statewide mask mandate. Abbott also answered the question on if he would continue to wear his own personal mask, or not.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting governmental entities in Texas, including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials, from requiring or mandating mask wearing.

Public schools may continue to follow current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4, according to the order. After June 4, no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor can be required to wear a mask while on campus.

Beginning at 11:59 p.m. on May 21, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with the executive order could be subject to a fine of up to $1,000, according to a release from Abbott's office.

Abbott lifted the statewide mask mandate in March. Since then, the decision to require masks or not has been left up to individual businesses and public entities.

"Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility," said Abbott at the time. "It's just that now state mandates are no longer needed."

WATCH: No more masks in Texas, but it comes with responsibility, Abbott says

Texans will no longer be required to wear a mask, Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday, March 2, but he said it comes with "personal responsibility." Hit play to hear his explanation.

The CDC has continued to recommend mask usage, but officials have eased that guidance for any fully vaccinated people. According to public data, about 32% of the population of Texas is considered fully vaccinated.

"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."

Exempt from the executive order are 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.

In Harris County, the COVID-19 threat level had remained at the highest level -- severe -- until an announcement by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Tuesday afternoon. During that press conference, among other issues addressed, Hidalgo specifically mentioned that masks will continue to be required in public buildings. It's not clear if Hidalgo was aware of the executive order, which was released at the same time as her announcement.

WATCH: Harris Co. Judge on lifting mandate: 'We're smarter than this'

ABC13 spoke with Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday afternoon to address concerns surrounding his most recent mask order which stated Texans do not have to wear a face covering in public places, and businesses can reopen to 100% capacity. Here's what Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo had to say moments after.

The video featured above is from a previous report.