Texas Governor Greg Abbott has consistently taken the position that face masks and face coverings are important to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But he has previously stopped short of issuing a statewide mandate on this issue and has prevented local governments from imposing civil penalties on individuals who fail to comply with local mask/face covering requirements. However, as COVID-19 cases in the state of Texas surge, local governments, and the Governor appear to have reached a possible compromise. Governor Abbott recently announced that he approved of recent local ordinances requiring businesses to force their employees and customers to wear masks or face coverings, including potential civil penalties for businesses that do not comply. Civil or criminal penalties for individuals who fail to wear face coverings are still off the table.

The Hidalgo County Order requires all commercial “Covered Services”, as enumerated in Hidalgo County’s Amended Emergency Order 20-008,1 that are not listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency or religious services, and that provide goods and services directly to the public to implement a health and safety policy for employees and customers and to post the policy, as outlined above.  The Hidalgo County Order went into effect June 18, 2020, and continues until it is modified, rescinded superseded, or amended.  Hidalgo County businesses were required to develop and implement the health and safety policy by June 20, 2020, to avoid fines.  Failure to do so may result in a fine against the business of $1,000 per violation.