SPD to be ‘reactive’ to governor’s order on face coverings

  • COVID-19 cases for surrounding counties
    COVID-19 cases for surrounding counties

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order on Thursday, July 2 requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, which applies to Fayette and surrounding counties.

Authorities can ultimately fine citizens for non-compliance.

Schulenburg Police Chief Troy Brenek said officers won’t actively approach people but will be “reactive” and respond to any complaints.

“With the Order, we’ll issue a warning first and, hopefully, in talking to the violator, it won’t go as far as issuing the $250 fine.”

Brenek said, in particular, the SPD will assist stores that require patrons to wear masks if there’s a problem. Any violator with whom the SPD makes contact will be put into its call report system so officers can keep track of who has been issued a warning, Brenek said.

While Gov. Abbot gives his reasons for instituting the Order, the face-covering mandate has many exceptions.

“When in public, people just need to practice good health measures,” Brenek said. “It’s just common sense – be socially aware and take your surroundings into consideration.”

As of Monday afternoon, The SPD had not received any complaints for non-compliance of the mask-wearing order but has had calls to confirm guidelines on social gathering, Brenek said. The City Council’s action last week limited outdoor events in Schulenburg to under 100, he said, while the governor issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people. That mandate, with certain exceptions, means people cannot be in groups larger than 10 and must maintain six feet of social distancing from others.

“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Abbott said. “We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another – and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces.

“Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups gathering will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe,” he continued.

The proclamation regarding large gatherings amends Executive Order GA-28, issued on June 26.

Paragraph 5 of GA-28 originally specified outdoor gatherings in excess of 100 people, but the proclamation issued July 2 amends Paragraph 5 to read:

“For any outdoor gathering in excess of 10 people, other than those set forth in paragraph numbers 1, 2, or 4, the gathering is prohibited unless the mayor of the city in which the gathering is held, or the county judge in the case of a gathering in an unincorporated area, approves of the gathering … ”

The proclamation also amends Paragraph 12 of GA-28 to read:

“Except as provided in this executive order or in the minimum standard health protocols recommended by DSHS, found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus, people shall not be in groups larger than 10 and shall maintain six feet of social distancing from those not in their group.”

The order requiring face coverings and proclamation regarding gatherings took effect statewide at 12:01 p.m. on Friday, July 3.

More information can be found at https://gov.texas.gov.

Excerpts from Executive Order GA-29 requiring face coverings

Every person in Texas shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.

This face-covering requirement does not apply to the following:

1. any person younger than 10 years of age;

2. any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;

3. any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;

4. any person while the person is exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, and maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household;

5. any person while the person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;

6. any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal;

7. any person while the person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water;

8. any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;

9. any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;

10. any person while the person is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience; or

11. any person in a county that meets the requisite criteria promulgated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) regarding minimal cases of COVID-19, and whose county judge has affirmatively optedout of this face-covering requirement by filing with TDEM the required face-covering attestation form – provided, however, that wearing a face covering is highly recommended, and every county is strongly encouraged to follow these face-covering standards. (A list of counties not subject to this face-covering requirement can be found at www.tdem.texas.gov/ga29.)

Not excepted from this face-covering requirement is any person attending a protest or demonstration involving more than 10 people and who is not practicing safe social distancing of six feet from other people not in the same household.

VIOLATIONS – Following a verbal or written warning for a first-time violator of this face-covering requirement, a person’s second violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250. Each subsequent violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 per violation.

Local law enforcement and other local officials, as appropriate, can and should enforce this executive order, and other effective executive orders, as well as local restrictions that are consistent with effective executive orders.

But no law enforcement or other official may detain, arrest or confine in jail any person for a violation of this executive order or for related non-violent, non-felony offenses that are predicated on a violation of this executive order; provided, however, that any official with authority to enforce this executive order may act to enforce trespassing laws and remove violators at the request of a business establishment or other property owner.

DURATION – This executive order shall remain in effect and in full force until modified, amended, rescinded or superseded by the governor.