Despite Abbott’s Executive Order, Dallas County Judge Mandates Masks for Schools, Businesses

AUSTIN, TX - MAY 18: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol on May 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Abbott said that childcare facilities, youth camps, some professional sports, and …
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Masks are now being required in schools and businesses in Dallas County after an executive order was signed by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Wednesday.

The order, which took effect Wednesday at midnight, requires public schools, child care centers and businesses to develop and implement safety plans which include the use of face masks for employees and visitors, or face fines up to $1,000 for each violation. The order from Jenkins also allows for “any peace officer or other person with lawful authority” to “enforce the provisions” of the order.

Jenkins’ order comes after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) implemented a ban on the enforcement of face masks from local governments. In May, Abbott announced he would be banning local governments from imposing mask mandates, leaving those who defy his order to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

The order also urged social distancing measures and self-isolation for those who are sick, referring to the use of face masks as a “secondary strategy to other mitigation efforts.” According to the order, Texans in Dallas County should stay “at least six feet away from others” while in public.

Regardless of vaccination status, the order also requires face masks to be worn inside buildings and offices operated by Dallas County.

Similarly, the Dallas Independent School District announced last week that it will require masks for everyone on its campuses, regardless of vaccination status. According to Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, “safety protocols” like a mask mandate for those on the district’s school campuses, regardless of vaccination status, will work to ensure the “safety of our students, staff and families.”

Following Jenkins’ order, Gov. Abbott released a statement warning that those who defy his executive order prohibiting government entities from mandating face coverings “will be taken to court.”

“Any school district, public university, or local government official that decides to defy GA-38 — which prohibits gov’t entities from mandating masks — will be taken to court,” Abbott wrote in a tweet.

“The path forward relies on personal responsibility—not government mandates,” he added.

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