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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans local officials from issuing mask, vaccine mandates

Despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country and within the state, Abbott is encouraging Texas residents in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates to “follow the safe practices they have already mastered.”

Governor Greg Abbott Getty Images

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday (July 29) forbidding local governments and school districts from issuing mask mandates.

Despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country and within the state, Abbott is encouraging Texas residents in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates to “follow the safe practices they have already mastered.” Businesses and other statewide entities that fail to comply are subject to fines of up to $1,000. Abbott said in a statement he issued the order to provide “clarity & uniformity in Texas’ response to the crippling coronavirus disease.

“The new executive order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates,” Abbott stated. “Texans ... have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities.”

The measure also bans government agencies from making individuals get vaccinated or providing proof of vaccination. However, the order does not prohibit nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be vaccinated.

In early March, the governor issued an executive order to lift the mask mandate and open Texas to 100 percent. Abbott’s latest order, of course, comes after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reversed its stance earlier this week — urging people, including those who are fully vaccinated, to wear masks indoors. The CDC’s guidance is due to concerns over the highly transmissible Delta variant. On Thursday (July 28), the state reported 10,086 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Texas.

Abbott’s mandate also arrives a day after San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wrote a letter to the governor asking his permission to allow schools to require face masks. The CDC is now recommending all children over 2 years old wear a mask when they return to school, regardless of vaccination status.

State hospitals have been asked by the governor to deliver daily reports on their capacity to the Texas Department of State Health Services to send to the CDC.

Check out Abbott’s full executive order below:

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