Do You Have To Wear A Mask In Texas?

required to wear mask Texas
Buc-ee wearing a mask Photo courtesy Lynn Bell

What are the Exceptions To Governor Abbott’s Mask Order?

Today, Governor Abbott signed Executive Order GA-29 which requires Texans in counties with more than 20 positive COVID-19 cases to wear a mask or face covering when in public spaces. The mask order goes into effect Friday, July 3, 2020 and the order does not list an expiration date.

Exceptions to GA-29:

  • Anyone age 10 or younger is not required to wear a mask
  • Anyone with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering
  • While seated at a restaurant you are not required to wear a mask
  • Any person consuming food or drink does not have to wear a mask
  • When exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, as long as you are maintaining a safe distance (6 ft or more) from other people not in the same household
  • Masks are not required while the person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver
  • Anyone obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, examples include visiting a bank, while having dental work done-mask must be worn after service is rendered
  • Anyone in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water; a mask would be required while entering a public pool area like Epic Waters
  • Masks are not required when voting, if you are assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged
  • Anyone attending church or providing church services, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged
  • Anyone giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience
  • Any individual in a county (a) that meets the requisite criteria of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) regarding minimal cases of COVID-19, and (b) whose county judge has affirmatively opted-out of this face-covering requirement by filing with TDEM the required face-covering attestation form—provided, however, that wearing a face covering is highly recommended, and every county is strongly encouraged to follow these face-covering standards.

What’s the Penalty For Not Wearing a Mask?

First time violation for not wearing a face mask or face covering will receive a written or verbal warning. A second violation can be fined an amount not to exceed $250 per violation. Anyone violating this order can not be arrested or jailed for failure to comply.

Groups of More Than 10 Are Prohibited

Governor Abbott signed a proclamation today that prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people. Any groups 10 or less must practice social distancing. So, what about protesters? Abbott’s order specifies “any person attending a protest or demonstration” with over 10 people who cannot socially distance must also wear a mask.

Note: there are no occupancy limits for churches, local government operations, child care facilities, youth camps and recreational sports for children and adults. And, Pro and college sports like the NASCAR race scheduled for July 17-18, swimming pools, water parks, museums, libraries, zoos and rodeo and equestrian events may operate at 50% capacity or less.