On Tuesday, Greg Abbott, a Republican Governor of Texas, signed an emergency declaration that prohibits local authorities in Texas from imposing mask-wearing mandates.
Abbott’s decision came as a response to indications that some Democratic counties, such as Travis County, might opt to impose mask mandates on their territory.
The declaration comes into effect on Friday and involves a $1,000 fine for any governmental entity that adopts a mask mandate rule.
There is an exception for public schools as they would be allowed to keep mask mandates until June 4th.
After that day, the mask mandate prohibition would apply to them as well.
Texan interests ahead of government control
The declaration does not concern private businesses.
They would still be allowed to impose any mask-wearing rules they find appropriate for their purposes.
There are also some public facilities exempted from Abbott’s order.
These include government-owned or run hospitals, living centers supported by the state, and municipal and county jails, along with the facilities of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
The Texas Governor emphasized that the state would continue fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that corresponds to the interests of Texans.
According to him, the Texas approach would involve bringing the disease down while, at the same time, protecting the freedom of choice of Texas citizens.
Abbott pointed out that Texas would focus on delivering vaccines, antibody drugs, and ‘safe practices’ to combat COVID-19.
The Texas approach on the spot
Governor Abbott’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a significant interest across the U.S. and the world.
Many people were shocked in early March when the Texas government took an entirely non-conventional course and decided to lift the mask mandate.
After several weeks, the public was once again surprised when the number of newly identified COVID-19 cases started to decline even though there were very few restrictions across the state.
The fact that Texas lags behind other states in the vaccination rate only added up to the perplexity.
Still, the Texas approach received much criticism from Democratic officials, most notably from Gavin Newsom, a Democratic Governor of California who still keeps tight restrictions in his state.
Back in March, Newsom described Abbott’s decision as ‘absolutely reckless.’
Even President Joe Biden himself criticized the Texas approach, calling it a ‘Neanderthal thinking.’