Texas governor bans local governments, schools from requiring face masks

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday issued an executive order banning local governments and schools from requiring face masks. 

Local governments must abolish their mask mandates by May 21, and schools must do so by June 4, according to the executive order.

"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," Abbott said in a press release. "Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities."

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Local governments that continue to enforce mask mandates after May 21 could be fined up to $1,000, the press release noted. 

"We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans' liberty to choose whether or not they mask up," Abbott added in his statement.

Texas was the first state to lift its mask mandate and capacity restrictions in March, drawing backlash from many critics. 

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared new guidance that lifts mask mandates and social distancing requirements for people who are fully vaccinated.