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Local Governments May Not Require Masks | Disabilities & Mask Requirements | Masks and Weapons
At Stores or Businesses | At Schools | At Airports or Public Transportation
As of July 2021, state and local governments cannot require masks. This is according to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-38:
No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face covering or to mandate that another person wear a face covering;
The order includes exceptions for certain local government entities:
These facilities can "continue to use appropriate policies" regarding masks.
GA-38 supersedes any mask requirement issued by a local government. A "failure to comply with this order" is subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
GA-38 was renewed in December 2022 along with several other executive orders related to the COVID-19 response.
A statewide mask mandate was in place in the earlier stages of the pandemic, but it is no longer in effect. Governor Greg Abbott ended the mandate with Executive Order GA-34 in March 2021.
Earlier executive orders allowed state and local governments to require masks in certain circumstances, but these orders have also been rescinded.
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.
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.
Private businesses still have the right to require masks for customers and employees, but most state and local government entities can no longer do so.
Governor Abbott's Executive Order No. GA-38 states the following regarding a private business's ability to require masks:
In providing or obtaining services, every person (including individuals, businesses, and other legal entities) is strongly encouraged to use good-faith efforts and available resources to follow the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) health recommendations, found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus
Generally speaking, a business can set their own rules and policies — similar to a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule — as long as they do not discriminate against a protected class of people (e.g., on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or disability). Please see the Disabilities & Mask Requirements box on this page for information about requesting accommodations related to a disability.
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.
Governor Abbott's Executive Order GA-38 prohibits school districts from requiring face coverings. Paragraph 4 of GA-38 states:
no governmental entity, including a [...] school district [...] may require any person to wear a face covering or to mandate that another person wear a face covering.
A lawsuit challenged the school mask mandate, but the Governor's order was ultimately upheld by a ruling in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has issued COVID-19 guidance for public schools. This guidance prohibits school systems from requiring students or staff to wear a mask in line with GA-38.
In January 2021, President Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to take immediate action to require masks for airports and public transportation.
These orders were set to expire in May of 2022 but were halted by a ruling from the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida.