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Gov. Greg Abbott issues statewide order requiring face masks in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases

The move comes after weeks of surging daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalization in Texas.

Updated with additional details from the order.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order Thursday requiring all Texans residing in counties with more than 20 cases to wear a face mask while in a commercial space or public buildings or when in an outdoor setting that does not allow for 6 feet of physical distancing.

The order goes into effect at 12:01 p.m. on July 3.

The order does not apply to anyone 10 years old or younger, individuals with health conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask or someone who is consuming food or drink.

Other exceptions while participating in outdoor activities or swimming.

Those voting or working at polling locations are not required to wear a mask, and masks are also not required for religious services -- though face masks are strongly encouraged.

Anyone attending a protest or demonstration is required to wear a mask if there are more than 10 people who are not all from the same household and can't practice social distancing.

Violators could face up to $250 in fines. People not wearing a face mask when required may receive a written or verbal warning for their first violation. 

"Local law enforcement and other local officials, as appropriate, can and should enforce this executive order," according to Abbott's order. 

The move comes after weeks of surging daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalization in Texas. 

On Wednesday, state health officials reported that Texas surpassed 8,000 single day cases for the first time. 

In North Texas, Dallas and Tarrant counties crossed 600 single-day confirmed cases earlier in the week, and then Dallas County reported more than 700 on Thursday.

Both counties have implemented mask requirements that order businesses to make employees and customers to wear face coverings. 

For weeks, Abbott has resisted a statewide mandate, saying that it would be unfair to require masks in counties where coronavirus is not spreading. 

But as cases and hospitalizations have continued to rise, the governor has taken small steps to try to stop the spread. 

On June 26, Abbott ordered bars and rafting businesses to close and restaurants to revert back to 50% capacity due to the rise in cases.

"The opening of bars, if I recall correctly, was around the Memorial Day time period," Abbott said in an interview with WFAA. "And in hindsight, that should’ve been delayed. Especially, now knowing how rapidly coronavirus could spread in the bar setting."

Read the full order: 

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