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Austin City Council Approves $2,000 Fine for Face Mask Violations

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Austin City Council passed a resolution on Thursday, July 9, 2020, which states that anyone caught not wearing a face mask in public has the potential to be fined up to $2,000. It’s the strictest enforcement measure to date with respect to the statewide mask order issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday, July 2, 2020. In addition, the council passed a related measure which could lead to civil action against Austin job sites or businesses that violate the minimum health standards for pandemic mitigation, such as failing to require six feet of distancing between those in groups of 10 or more, or failing to have their employees wear face masks on the job. Both of these council agenda items passed unanimously.

One of the Austin City Council members stated they hoped that the idea of such a fine would lead to better conformity. The Texas Hill Country city has seen a surge in COVID-19 infections over the last three to four weeks. These latest measures taken by the council come just one day after Governor Abbott wrote to Mayor Steve Adler supporting the enforcement of the mask order with civil action, calling the concept “necessary to protect public health and safety.”

Austin City Council Approves $2,000 Fine for Face Mask Violations

Photo: @irina.vakaluk via Twenty20

In that, however, he did not suggest that the city of Austin had the legal authority to pass rules and regulations outside the scope of the executive order which requires that anyone 10 years and older in the state of Texas wear a face mask or face coverage when in public places. Therefore, although Austin officials are asking people to stay home, Mayor Adler can’t give an official order for lockdown measures which would be enforceable. City officials have stated that although citations can still be issued by police, the goal is still to get voluntary compliance with the statewide mask order. The move by the Texas capital to take measures for stricter enforcement in the face of non-conformity comes amid a series of statements issued by County Sheriffs throughout the Lone Star State identifying that they will not be issuing citations and are working to further educate the public as opposed to forcing Texans to comply.