AUSTIN, Texas – Governor Greg Abbott on Friday released a public service announcement encouraging Texans to do their part to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 by following best practices.
The PSA, titled “Be A Good Neighbor. Be a Texan," urges residents to practice social distancing in public, wear a face covering and wash their hands regularly as the Lone Star State begins to open up.
In late March, Gov. Abbott said “Local officials have the authority to implement more strict standards than I as governor have implemented in the state of Texas,” and allowed for fines of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 180 days or both for violations. But on April 27, Abbott said Texans could not be fined for not wearing masks. He and the state’s other Republican leaders then blasted officials in San Antonio, Bexar County, Dallas and Houston for what they called overzealous enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.
Attorney General Ken Paxton sent letters to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, accusing them of issuing orders on churches, essential businesses and masks that conflicted with the governor’s orders.
While still not allowing for fines, the governor is now urging Texans to wear masks for safety and to “be a good neighbor.”
In San Antonio, a heated discussion over face masks that was caught on camera May 13 led to a scuffle. In the video, an employee of a 99 Cents Only Store in the 2900 block of OId Thousand Oaks appears to ask a customer to leave because he does not have a face covering on. A report from the San Antonio Police Department states the manager told him he needed to wear a mask while inside the store.
“I don’t care,” the man replies, then goes on to reference Abbott’s order that people cannot be fined for not wearing face coverings.
By the time officers arrived, the suspect had already left in a dark-colored Nissan, police said. No arrest has been made, according to SAPD.