The Seminole Police Department (SPD), with chief Bernie Kraft, released a statement Saturday regarding Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order GA-29, which went into effect Friday.
“The Governor’s order on masks went into effect yesterday,” the statement said. “The order states that it is mandatory to wear a mask while out in public for those counties with 20 or more active cases. (We are currently at 12 active confirmed cases).”
Abbott previously resisted calls for such an order and at one point told local governments they could not require masks. First-time violators of GA-29 will be issued a warning, per the order, with provisions for repeat offenders to be fined up to $250.
“My officers will be wearing masks while engaged in their duties in public. That being said, we will not be responding to calls for people not wearing masks, nor will we be looking for or citing those who choose not wear a mask but to educate and inform those of the current situation and the current Governor’s order,” the SPD statement continued.
Abbott’s order applies to all Texas counties with 20 or more active cases. Counties with fewer can be exempted — if the county judge must submits an application to the Texas Division of Emergency Management for the county to be exempted. TDEM will list the counties opting out on its website.
The SPD statement also addressed businesses only allowing customers in who are wearing face coverings.
“Business owners and managers do have the right to refuse entry and services to those who choose not to wear a mask. For those who choose not to wear a mask and a business asks you to leave, please be respectful and leave,” the SPD said, and cautioned officers would “respond to calls to businesses where subjects refuse to leave and or are causing a scene and appropriate criminal charges will be enforced.”
There are exceptions in Texas’ mask order for people who have a medical condition or disability, who are exercising outdoors, or who are participating in a religious service, or voting. Abbott also gave mayors and county authorities the ability to ban outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.
“All we are asking is that everyone respect each other’s rights and let’s do our best to work together during these troubling and unusual times. Please take precautions to protect yourself, your family, your co-workers and your community during this Covid event,” the SPD concluded.