SAN ANGELO, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott’s mandate for masks to be worn in public places went into effect today at noon.

“Our goal is for people to prosper by protecting their lives. We can achieve both by wearing face masks,” said Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday.

Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order mandating the use of face masks in public in Texas counties with 20 or more positive cases of COVID-19, beginning Friday at noon. The order comes as cases in Tom Green County and across the state continue to rise.

“Look at Tom Green County for example, the numbers for the past couple of days more than doubled from ten days ago. That speed of increase is being replicated across the state of Texas,” added Governor Abbott.

Exceptions to the order include:

  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 (a) exercising outdoors or engaging in
    physical activity outdoors, and (b) 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 personalcare 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 poli watcher, or
    actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly
  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 (a) that meets the requisite criteria promulgated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) regarding minimal cases of COVID-19, and (b) whose county judge has affirmatively opted-out 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.

Not excepted from the 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.

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 can enforce the executive order.

The governor said the mandate is essential to avoid more lockdowns but some citizens disagree with his decision.

“It’s him pacifying the 1-2% speaking the loudest and leaving 98% of us behind. If you want to wear a mask, feel free to do so. I don’t choose to and I shouldn’t wear one because it makes you feel better,” said Coco Simpson, a citizen of Tom Green County.

Coco Simpson and Caleb Wallace are organizing a “Freedom Rally” in San Angelo on Saturday. The two feel that the restrictions being placed on Texans are unnecessary and taking away their rights.

“There’s a whole group of people that are sick of it. We’re sick of being told what to do, where we can go and our businesses being told how they can be run. This rally is to reignite the freedom we have as Americans and to bring it back to life,” explained Simpson.

The rally will begin at 11:00am at the Tom Green County courthouse. From there, they will march to the San Angelo City Hall.

“I was hoping Greg Abbott would follow through on what he was elected for and represent Texans and their rights and their ability to self-govern. I’m disgusted by this administration. Greg Abbott needs to be held accountable. We ask our elected city officials to be here. We want you here to hear our voice, we care about you and pray for you and just need you to do your job,” added Wallace.

According to Simpson, she believes COVID-19 is a real issue, but would like officials to allow citizens to make their own decisions to slow the spread of the virus.

“More than anything, this is not a referendum on COVID. It’s a real virus, people are dying and we’re not negating that. What we have a problem with is the tyrannical actions that have been taken in the name of COVID,” added Simpson.