MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Midland Mayor Patrick Payton has issued a statement on Gov. Greg Abbott’s face covering executive order.

You can read the full statement below:

Though disappointed in the ongoing Executive overreach of Governor Abbott into local matters dealing with community health, one can also respect and appreciate the nearly impossible nature of dealing with unprecedented events in the daily lives of Texans. Bearing in mind that community health concerns surrounding COVID-19 seem to change on a daily basis, we must once again adjust to new executive mandates at the local level. Pursuant to the Governor’s most recent executive order, the following directives – taken directly from the Governor’s order – will be in effect throughout Midland until we have 20 or fewer cases within Midland County.

The Governor’s order states the following related to enforcement of this mask mandate:

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; or

10. any person while the person is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience.

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

“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.”

I will not be asking our police department to respond to calls reporting individuals in violation of this executive order. We cannot, and I will not, have our police chasing reports of people in violation of the mask requirement knowing that there will not only be multiple unenforceable scenarios, but also exceptions and circumstances that make this mask mandate unenforceable throughout the city. I will fully expect our police to pursue any calls related to a threatening or violent situation towards any individual arising out of the application of the Governor’s mask mandate. As always, police will continue to address matters of public safety through prioritized assessment.

Each and every one of us know what we can, and should, do in this moment of health crisis, and we should do our best to honor the lives and health of all those around us through personal application of masks in public places for the next few weeks. This is not new to us and I have already requested these actions from our great city and her residents.

I do not believe that we as a state should continue in this pattern of executive fiat over the entire state without legislative checks and balances. Until such a time when the Texas Legislature finally engages this unprecedented season, we at the local level are the only check and balance to statewide mandates being applied to a fluid and varied situation throughout a radically diverse state. I firmly believe the residents of Midland were already prepared and actually applying the needed actions of masking headed into the Fourth of July weekend.

Mayor Patrick Payton

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