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Am I supposed to wear a mask now in Austin-Travis County?

The short answer is yes but it’s not required under state law.

AUSTIN, Texas — Local and leaders as well as Centers for Disease Control guidance recommend you still wear a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

But it’s not required in Texas, and you can’t be penalized with fines or jail time if you’re not wearing one.

According to Gov. Greg Abbott’s Monday executive order: “Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.”

The governor’s order makes it clear that no local orders can contradict the state orders.

But local officials are still weighing what kind of additional guidance or orders can be issued.

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Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a Thursday evening Facebook Live that he’s considering keeping masks required in Austin, even if people can’t face fines or jail time.

“The penalty for not wearing face covering in Austin is that the virus is going to infect more people and more people are going to die. That's the penalty for not wearing a face covering,” Adler said on Facebook Live.

The current local orders, which do require a face covering, are set to expire on May 8.

According to the local orders, face coverings should be worn:

  • In public buildings
  • When using public transportation, taxi or ride share
  • When pumping gas
  • While outside and 6 feet of social distancing can’t be maintained

Face coverings do not have to be worn while driving a car, in a separate single space or with people who are also members of your household.

Masks are also not required when you need to consume food or drink, according to the April 13 local orders.

Local officials have indicated they will issue new orders before the current ones expire in order to continue slowing the spread of the virus in Central Texas.

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