Texas governor threatens to fine local officials who enforce new mask mandates

Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottFaith leaders call on Congress to lead the response to a global pandemic Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms Biden administration announces federal support for patients, abortion providers in Texas MORE (R) threatened to fine local officials who enforce new mask mandates.

Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday which he said would provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19.”

“Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19. They 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,” Abbott said in a statement.

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Abbott's order encourages residents in areas where there is high COVID-19 transmission to “follow the safe practices they have already mastered,” such as wearing masks where social distancing is not feasible.

Government entities such as county, city, school district, or public health authorities cannot require people to wear face coverings.

Local government entities that institute mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000.

The order also specifies that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Governmental agencies, public entities and private entities that receive public funding, cannot require people to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving services.

The order does not stop nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be inoculated.

The move comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD) issued new guidance stating that fully vaccinated people in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmissions of COVID-19.

The CDC made the move amid an increase in COVID-19 infections fueled by the delta variant of the virus, which now accounts for most new cases.