Abbott: El Paso County Mask Order Can’t Include Fine
The governor’s new executive order has rendered El Paso County’s face covering mandate to a mandate by name only, making it really just a recommendation again.
During a press conference Monday where he announced his plans for restarting the state’s economy, Texas Governor Abbott suggested people continue to wear a face mask or covering when out in public, but stressed it was not a requirement.
“We strongly recommend that everyone wear a mask. However, it's not a mandate,” he said. “And we make clear that no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine." Abbot added his executive order superseded local government orders meaning cities like El Paso that mandated its residents wear face coverings to contain the spread of the coronavirus or risk a fine or jail time can no longer punish any violators with penalties.
Orders issued just last Friday, April 24, by Mayor Dee Margo and El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego had provisions including fines of up to $1000 or jail time to those failing to comply.
Local officials have not addressed Abbott’s comment on face coverings specifically. A statement issued Monday quoted Margo as saying local officials are “in the process of reviewing the executive orders…and how they apply to our community” and would “move forward with El Paso’s plan with emphasis on the health and wellness of our community.”
But let’s be real, the face mask mandate was not going to be easy to enforce. In fact, days leading up to it being mandated, when officials were discussing whether to make it a directive or not, Margo told a local news station that requiring the masses to cover up would be too hard to enforce and simply not a priority.
That was clear the first weekend it was in effect with many choosing not to wear one and law enforcement and businesses looking the other way.
It was always really primarily a self-regulation directive. But regardless of how the city and county proceeds with this, for the safety of those around you, would you please wear one? It’s not going to kill you. Not wearing one might, though.