Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Tuesday prohibiting governmental entities in the state from requiring or mandating the wearing of masks.
The order applies to counties, cities, public health authorities and government officials.
According to the governor’s office, the order also applies to school districts, but public schools may continue to follow current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4. After June 4, no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor can be required to wear a mask while on campus.
Officials say local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with the executive order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 beginning May 21.
"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 Governor 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.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.