Texas governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order on Tuesday banning government agencies in the state from requesting face masks and fines those who do so.
According to the Republican governor’s order, which goes into effect Friday, local governments or officials who introduce mandatory masks can be fined up to $ 1,000.
“Anyone can wear a mask if they want. It’s just a Texans choice not to be forced by the government,” Abbott said in an interview on CNBC’s Closing Bell.
Schools are on a slightly different schedule, according to Abbott’s order on Tuesday, building on his decision in early March to remove state mask requirements and lift restrictions on business capacity.
According to Abbott’s latest order, Texas public schools can maintain their current mask guidelines through June 4th. However, after that date, the face covering requirements for teachers, staff and students, as well as other visitors, are prohibited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising schools to maintain coronavirus reduction measures, including face masks, for the remainder of the school year. The eligibility for Covid vaccines has recently been extended to children aged 12 to 15 years. To date, more than half a million children in this age group have received a Covid shot.
Abbott’s action on Tuesday follows last week’s newly issued guidance from the CDC. The health authority said that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear face masks in most environments, both indoors and outdoors.
While local regulations take precedence over CDC guidelines, the change in recommendations prompted a number of states and major retailers to relax their existing mask guidelines for vaccinated individuals.
Some states, such as California, haven’t changed their approach in the face of the CDC’s decision, which has been criticized by some public health experts as confusing and possibly premature.
Others have welcomed the CDC guidelines, saying it makes sense at this stage of the pandemic – with new Covid infections falling and vaccinations increasing.
Nearly 48% of the US population have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, and 37.5% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
As vaccinations reach more Americans, the number of new infections every day has continued to decline. Based on an average of seven days, the country reports around 32,000 new coronavirus cases every day. This comes from a CNBC analysis of the data from Johns Hopkins University. It is the lowest value since the end of June.
The 7-day average of daily cases of new coronavirus in Texas is 2,040, which is a decrease of nearly 9% from a week, according to CNBC analysis.
In March, Abbott’s decision to drastically pull back coronavirus restrictions was heavily criticized by President Joe Biden and health officials. Abbott told CNBC that its strategy has proven effective.
“The Covid situation in Texas is such that we can and should be 100% open,” Abbott said. “We can remove government-mandated masks, but we always encourage people to make their own choices for themselves and for their own safety.”
Some facilities are exempt from the governor’s order on Tuesday, e.g. B. Hospitals owned or operated by the government and facilities operated by the Texas Department of Justice.