Beginning May 21, you won't have to mask up when entering a city or county operated facility, unless you want to. Mayor Oscar Leeser and El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced the rule change at a joint news conference Tuesday (5/18).

The update reflects a new order issued Tuesday by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

"It’s not a mandate when you come to a city facility starting May twenty first at 11:59 p.m., but we highly encourage it," Leeser said, referring to the use of face masks and face coverings. The directive also extends to county-run buildings and facilities, although you can if you want to.

The El Paso International Airport, Sun Metro buses and other public transportation are exempt and will still require mask wearing as they fall under federal directives.

While some businesses in El Paso have begun to ease mask restrictions or no longer require face coverings for fully vaccinated shoppers and employees, it remains their prerogative, as Mayor Leeser pointed out.

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"The local businesses are not under this mandate, they are not under the governor’s orders [and] don’t have to do this. That’s still going to be up to a local business."

Gov. Abbott’s new executive order bans government entities in the state from imposing mask mandates in the fight against COVID-19 starting Friday, May 21, with some exceptions.

Public schools, however, are not among the exempt. After June 4, "no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor may be required to wear a face covering," per the governor’s new order.

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