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No $1,000 fine | Harris Co. judge amends mask order after Gov. Abbott says his mandate takes precedence

The penalty was removed from the order just hours after it went into effect Monday.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has amended a local order requiring all persons wear a face covering when in public.

The judge confirmed Monday she is removing the $1,000 penalty for violators after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told state residents his mandate supersedes local jurisdictions.

The amendment is being made just hours after the order had gone into effect Monday. The judge said the order still stands and will continue for the next 30 days. 

Hidalgo released the following statement:

“Harris County is the epicenter for the Covid-19 crisis in Texas and face coverings are one of the only weapons we have to stop the spread of the virus and reopen safely. We have a face covering order today and we’ll still have a face covering order tomorrow. In practical terms, the governor’s order doesn’t change much because, like every order we’ve issued so far, we’d made it clear that the priority was education. The fine was there as a signal of how vital mask wearing is, and in many ways, the community got that message. It’s been disappointing to see folks politicize public health, and I hope this means they'll go back to focusing on health and safety instead of politics. As we have in the past, we will amend this order to conform with the governor’s.”

No other changes are being made to the order, which Hidalgo says is meant to protect residents above all else.

During a briefing, Abbott reminded the public his executive order prevents local governments from enforcing their orders with fines.

Despite the fine being removed, all persons over age 10 in Harris County are still required to wear some sort of face covering when in public.  

The order includes an exceptions for those eating, drinking, exercising, inside a home, driving in a vehicle or in any situation where wearing a mask presents a mental or physical risk.

RELATED: Harris County face covering ordinance is in effect, but Gov. Abbott says you can't be fined

RELATED: Harris County residents have mixed opinions about mandatory mask order

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