Smith County officials cite governors order: ‘No jurisdiction’ to impose penalty for not wearing face masks

Smith County officials cite governors order: ‘No jurisdiction’ to impose penalty for not wearing face masks
File photo (Source: KTRE)

Editor’s note: The photo on this story was taken last year.

SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - A joint statement from Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran, City of Tyler Mayor Martin Heines, and Northeast Texas Public Health District CEO George Roberts:

Smith County, the City of Tyler and the Northeast Texas Public Health District have been working closely through the joint emergency operations center (EOC) since mid-March. These meetings are still occurring in person at least once a week with constant communication to monitor the impact of COVID-19 in our community.

Through collaboration and a consensus for the betterment of the community, it is the recommendation of the joint EOC that residents and visitors are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when in public settings when social distancing is not possible.According to Governor Abbott’s newest executive order GA-28 that was issued on Friday, June 26, “Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.”

This makes enforcement of mandated mask-wearing effectively impossible at the local level. Ultimately, it is the individual responsibility of each person to protect themselves, their families and others in our community. Best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 include handwashing for at least 20 seconds, maintaining at least six feet of distance between yourself and others in public, utilizing hand sanitizer when needed, staying home when sick and wearing a face covering in public when social distancing is not possible.

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