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Texas mandates the wearing of facemasks in public

Published on 03/07/20 at 10:57am
Photo by World Travel & Tourism Council

Texas becomes the latest state in the US to mandate the wearing of facemasks in public, as COVID-19 cases skyrocket across the country.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced this directive applies to counties with over 20 or more cases, which covers most of the state’s 254 counties. Those who refuse to wear one will face a warning upon a first offence, and a fine of up to $250 for a second. Texans must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth while in a business or other public building and outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible.

Abbot said: “Wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business. COVID-19 is not going away,  In fact it's getting worse. We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast there is little margin for error. Let me be clear: no-one can ever be put in jail for violating this safe practice.”

This is a significant U-turn for the Republican Governor, who has long resisted enforcing a mask mandate and said he did not want districts with fewer cases to be burdened by restrictions to stem the spread of the virus in worse affected areas.

There are some caveats to the mandate, with exceptions for children under 10, people who have certain medical conditions, as well as those eating or drinking and exercising outdoors.

Combined with the mask mandate, Abbott also banned outdoors gatherings of over 10 people ahead of the 4th July holiday weekend.

These measures come as hospitalisations in Texas reached record highs, with 8,076 new cases on Wednesday, 1,000 more than the record set the previous day.

Conor Kavanagh

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