Local leaders react to Gov. Abbott's mask order


The City of Snyder will follow a recent order from Texas governor Greg Abbott mandating masks indoors in public, but according to local officials, enforcement of the order will be left largely up to local business owners.

“We are certainly doing our best to follow the governor’s guidelines, and we want to encourage everybody to wear a mask when they’re inside of a (public) building, an enclosed area,” Snyder City Manager Merle Taylor said. “Social distancing and all that. We’re in support of all that. It’ll be primarily left up to the merchant to decide his level of accountability. A lot of it will be left up to the merchant. Of course, each case will be considered separately.”

According to Scurry County Sheriff Trey Wilson, the Sheriff’s Department won’t be actively searching for those in violation of the mask order.

“We’re not going to be actively out hunting for anybody on that,” Wilson said, adding that he will provide more information on the subject in the near future.

County Judge Dan Hicks and Snyder ISD Superintendent Dr. Eddie Bland could not be reached for comment Wednesday. 

Abbott’s order, announced July 2 and effective July 3, mandated that people wear protective masks in public in counties with 20 or more active cases of COVID-19. The order also limits outdoor groups to, in most cases, 10 people, and requires social distancing of at least six feet separation between members of such groups.

According to the order, those found in violation of the order will receive a warning for the first infraction, and a $250 fine for each additional infraction.

The order also includes several cases in which the mask requirement does not apply, including for those under 10 years old; for any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering; for any person consuming food or drink or seated at a restaurant to eat or drink; for 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; for any person driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver; for 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; for any person in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water; for 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; for any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face-covering is strongly encouraged; for any person giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience. 

The order specifies that those attending a protest or demonstration involving more than 10 people and not practicing social distancing are not exempt from the mask requirement.

“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said. “We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face-covering in public spaces.”

Scurry County reported 11 new active COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the county's total to 50 active cases. That number increased by 13 Wednesday, to 63 active cases. The total year-to-date cases is 84, with 20 recovered and 1 death. 

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported Wednesday that the Price Daniel Unit had 172 active cases among offenders and 13 among employees. There are 236 people on medical restriction and 172 in medical isolation, and zero recoveries at the unit.