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Gov. Greg Abbott decreed that, effective immediately, no governmental entities within Texas can require people to wear face coverings. This includes counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials. He is allowing public schools to continue their current face-covering guidelines through June 4.

Abbott issued his executive order Tuesday, May 18.

The order also would impose a fine of up to $1,000, starting Friday, May 21, on local governments or officials that attempt to require face coverings. 

“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,” the governor stated in a media release. “Texans, not governments, 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.”

On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for fully vaccinated people regarding face coverings. The CDC’s latest recommendations are that fully vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear face coverings in most indoor and outdoor settings.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, about 40 percent of Texans are fully vaccinated. The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths have significantly declined over the past weeks. 

Locally, Marble Falls Independent School District board of trustees voted to make face coverings optional as of May 12. The Burnet CISD board decided to continue the current policy of requiring face coverings in most indoor settings, including classrooms, until the end of the school year.

BCISD officials are concerned that positive COVID-19 cases, particularly at the high school, could initiate quarantines and potentially force some graduating seniors to miss commencement.

Starting June 1, BCISD will not require face coverings.

Under Abbott’s executive order, exemptions include 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.

editor@thepicayune.com