Judge Tim Lapham Responds After Governor Abbott Issues Mask Order For Entire State

Judge Tim Lapham Responds After Governor Abbott Issues Mask Order For Entire State

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Office released a sweeping edict to Texas Citizens requiring : Every person in Texas shall wear a face covering…”.   The governor’s constitutionally dubious executive order was released today via press release.

Austin County Judge Tim Lapham responded to the Governor’s order via social media:

7/2/20 Update and Orders from the Governor
Here we go again with the number. My paper, which is combined information from several sources shows 88 total for Austin County. We double check addresses to make sure we aren’t counting people twice. From that list, the state has told us that 31 of those are considered recovered. Somewhere around 3 of those active are hospitalized and no deaths that I am aware of. That would make 57 active cases. Almost all of the recent cases have Sealy addresses. A few in Bellville, Wallis, Industry, New Ulm. And most are in the 20-50s range. The DSHS website says we have 73 total cases, 35 recoveries, 0 deaths and 5 active cases. That math doesn’t add up but I know they have a lot of numbers to keep track of.

Here’s the announcement from the Governor’s office:
“Every person in Texas shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household; provided, however, that this face-covering requirement does not apply to the following:
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 personal care 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 poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;
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 this 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.
TDEM shall maintain on its website a list of counties that are not subject to this face-covering requirement pursuant to paragraph number 11. The list can be found at: www.tdem.texas.gov/ga29.
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 $250 per violation. Local law enforcement and other local officials, as appropriate, can and should enforce this executive order, Executive Order GA-28, and other effective executive orders, as well as local restrictions that are consistent with this executive order and other effective executive orders. But no law enforcement or other official may detain, arrest, or confine in jail any person for a violation of this executive order or for related non-violent, non-felony offenses that are predicated on a violation of this executive order; provided, however, that any official with authority to enforce this executive order may act to enforce trespassing laws and remove violators at the request of a business establishment or other property owner. This executive order hereby prohibits confinement in jail as a penalty for the violation of any face-covering order by any jurisdiction. Executive Order GA-2$ is hereby amended to delete from paragraph number 15 the phrase: “, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.”
The governor has put the responsibility of enforcing his orders on local law enforcement. Any questions on enforcement of this order should be directed to your respective law enforcement office. While the governor recently said individuals could not be fined, this new order imposes fines for individuals. I still believe it is the business owner’s right to enforce a mask order if they so choose and an individual’s right to patronize that business if they choose and avoid those they don’t feel safe.
Have a great Fourth Of July weekend. Be safe and remember those who have sacrificed to allow us to live in this great country.

Governor Abbott’s Executive Orders have drawn questions on their constitutionality as well as a lawsuit that now has over 250 plaintiffs.  This latest executive order is Governor Abbott’s 29th since the COVID-19 incident began.