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COVID-19 & Texas Law

This guide is updated to reflect information pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information in this guide is subject to change at any time.

Mask Laws


Contents

This page contains information on the following. Click the link to jump to each topic:

Statewide Mask Requirement for Individuals
The statewide order that individual people must wear masks or face coverings in most public places is no longer in effect. It was superseded on March 10, 2021.

Masks at the Polls
The Governor's statewide order does not require Texans to wear a face covering at polling places. However, there is an ongoing lawsuit that aims to change that.

Local Government Mask Orders for Individuals
Local governments in areas of high hospitalization can also issue and enforce local laws or orders that require individual people to wear masks or face coverings in public.

Local Government Requirements for Businesses
If they choose, local governments in areas of high hospitalization can require that businesses implement a mask-wearing policy.

Mask Policies at Stores or Businesses
Even if not required by law, businesses can require customers and/or employees to wear masks.

Disabilities & Mask Requirements
Individuals who have a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask can request a reasonable accommodation to a mask policy at work or when obtaining service at a businesses.

Masks and Weapons
We have not been able to locate any laws that would prevent a person from carrying a weapon while wearing a mask in Texas. Please see our FAQ “Can I carry a weapon while wearing a mask?” for more information.

Masks at Schools
TEA has issued guidance for schools to bring them into compliance with the statewide mask order.

 Masks on Federal Property
On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order requiring masks and physical distancing in federal buildings and on federal land.

 Masks while in or on Airports or Public Transportation
On January 21, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to take immediate action to require masks while at or on airports or public transportation.

Statewide Mask Requirement for Individuals is No Longer in Effect

Executive Order GA-34

Effective March 10, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed an executive order that supersedes the previous Executive Order GA-29, which required Texans to wear a mask or face covering.

In counties that are not in an area of high hospitalization, defined as Trauma Service Areas [PDF] that have had seven consecutive days where more than 15% of hospitalized patients are COVID patients, the order states:

[No] person may be required by any jurisdiction to wear or to mandate the wearing of a face covering.

In areas of high hospitalization, county judges may issue orders to mitigate COVID, but they cannot:

  • Impose jail as a penalty for violating the order; or
  • Impose a penalty for failure to wear a face covering or failure to require that customers and employees wear face coverings.

The order says that businesses and other establishments may require employees or customers to wear masks. It also allows law enforcement to enforce trespassing laws and remove individuals who refuse to wear a mask at a business that requires them. 

A list of areas with high hospitalizations can be found on the Department of State Health Services' website.

Masks at the Polls

Governor Abbott's Executive Order requiring face coverings in many public places [PDF] specifically does not require individuals to wear a face covering while voting, working as a poll watcher, assisting a voter, or administering an election. There is an ongoing lawsuit challenging this. If the lawsuit succeeds before election day (Nov. 3rd), Texans may need to wear a face covering while at a polling place. Below is information about the ongoing lawsuit. Please check news outlets for up-to-date information as election day approaches.

Local Government Mask Orders for Individuals

Effective March 10, Only Local Governments in High-Hospitalization Areas Can Require Individuals to Wear Masks

Under GA-34, counties that are not located in high-hospitalization areas cannot require individuals to wear a face covering. Areas of high hospitalization can only require face coverings if they do not impose a penalty for violations. 

Previously, GA-29 removed language from previous executive orders that prohibited local governments from requiring individual people to wear masks. This allowed local governments to issue mask requirements that ran parallel to the state-wide order. These local requirements acted as additional enforcement tools for local governments.

Some of these local orders contained the potential for larger fines or other enhanced punishments as compared to the state-wide order. It remains unclear whether or not a city or county could issue a fine or other punishment in excess of what is prescribed in the Governor's executive order.

Enforcement

In many places you can call 3-1-1 or the police non-emergency line, but check your city or county's website to be sure. Search for your city's website or county's website

Local Government Requirements for Businesses

Effective March 10, Only Local Governments in High-Hospitalization Areas Can Require Businesses to Have a Mask Policy

During an interview with KWTX on June 17th, the governor confirmed that "his COVID-19 plan does allow local governments to require stores and businesses to require customers to wear masks."

As part of Executive Order GA-34, Governor Abbott ordered that a jurisdiction not in an area of high hospitalization cannot require people to wear face coverings. Counties in areas of high hospitalization may still issue orders to require face coverings, but they cannot penalize violations of the order.

Check your city or county's website to find out if there is a requirement in place for businesses in your area.

Enforcement

If your city or county is requiring that businesses implement a mask policy and you want to report a business for not having a policy, you should contact your local government. In many places you can call 3-1-1 or the police non-emergency line, but check your city or county's website to be sure. Search for your city's website or county's website

Mask Policies at Stores or Businesses

Policies for Customers

Governor Abbott's Executive Order No. GA-34 says that businesses and other establishments may require employees or customers to wear masks. It also allows law enforcement to enforce trespassing laws and remove individuals who refuse to wear a mask at a business that requires them. 

Policies for Employees

According to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (see FAQ G.2) an employer can require employees to wear protective gear (such as face coverings or gloves). Employees may make a request for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA or a religious accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (such as a modified mask that can be worn with a religious head covering). Employers should provide the modification or an alternative modification unless it would create an “undue hardship” for the employer.

Disabilities & Mask Requirements

If you want to know whether you should avoid wearing a mask due to your disability or medical condition, you should consult with your doctor. People with certain disabilities may be entitled to reasonable accommodations to face mask policies under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other disability laws.

Masks and Weapons

We have been unable to locate a Texas law that would prevent someone from carrying a gun or other weapon while wearing a mask or other face covering.

Masks at Schools

Effective March 10, the Governor has rescinded the statewide requirement that masks be worn in most public places. On March 3, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) updated its guidance for schools regarding masks. In its press release, the agency noted that local school boards may determine their mask policy.

Masks on Federal Property

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to take immediate action to require masks and physical distancing in all federal lands and federal buildings.

The order allows for case-by-case exceptions.

Masks at Airports and on Public Transportation

On January 21, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to take immediate action to require masks while in or on:

  1. Airports
  2. Commercial aircraft
  3. Trains
  4. Public maritime vessels, including ferries
  5. Intercity bus services; and
  6. All public transportation as defined by 49 USC 5302.

The order allows for case-by-case exceptions.

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