The mask mandate in Texas went into effect on Friday, July 3, at 12:01 p.m. This mandate requires residents in counties with more than 20 active coronavirus cases to wear a mask over their nose and mouth when they are in public spaces where social distancing is not possible. Mask mandate penalties in Texas start with a mere warning but can result in $250 fines for repeat offenders. Here is what to know about the mandate to keep from violating it:
- Public spaces include outdoor spaces: The mask mandate exempts people who are exercising outdoors and able to social distance. That said, you still have to wear a mask if you are dining outdoors or attending any other outdoor event, like a barbecue or farmers market. Even if you are out hiking or running, bring a mask with you in case conditions become crowded. It is better to be safe than sorry.
- Your county may be exempt: Counties with 20 or fewer active coronavirus cases are exempt from the mandate. However, that only applies if they sought the exemption. Do not assume your county is exempt without confirming first. You can do that by checking the successful exemption list here. (Notice that Lubbock County is not included on this list, and you will need to wear a mask here.)
- Know the exceptions: There are reasonable exceptions to this rule. Children under 10 are not required to wear a mask. The same is true if you are eating or drinking or suffer a medical condition that makes wearing a mask impossible. You can also avoid wearing a mask if you are exercising outdoors, as we mentioned above. However, merely being outside does not excuse you from wearing a mask.
- There are penalties: Besides the fact that masks are proven to work in limiting the spread of the virus, you can also face penalties if you do not wear one in public spaces. A first offense is met with a warning. Any failures to wear a mask following that are punishable with $250 fines. While you cannot receive jail time for violating the mask mandate, those fines are cumulative, and your refusal can become an expensive problem very quickly.
- Other limitations: The order also banned outdoor gatherings of over 10 people, unless local officials approved them first. This was previously set at 100 people, but new surges in COVID-19 cases expanded the restriction. Also, the mandate does not exempt people attending protests, since those events often exceed 10 people and it is impossible to socially distance. The safest option remains staying at home, but if you attend outdoor gatherings, use common sense and bring a mask just in case conditions are not conducive to physical distance.
The Law Office of Robert Biggers offers representation in family and criminal law in Lubbock, TX. If you require guidance on mask mandate penalties in Texas, please contact us today to schedule a consultation. Please note that we are not able to accommodate same-day appointments at this time.
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