Texans who violate business mask rules may be arrested

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Texas Governor Greg Abbot has rescinded his statewide mask order, which he issued in July 2020 when the number of positive cases for coronavirus in the state surged. The order is to be lifted on Wednesday but according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, any Texan who fails to comply with a private businesses’ policy on wearing masks can be arrested. This move aligns with business property rights in the Lone Star State and allows law enforcement to effectively keep the peace. 

Acevedo said that the violators of a business’s mask policy could be arrested under a law called ‘criminal trespass’. Texas police officers will also be authorized to issue a criminal trespass warning to a violator, which will prevent them from entering an establishment for a year.

Acevedo has confirmed that his police officers will also be wearing masks well past the date of the state-wide lift. The masks will “protect (the officers) and protect the public they come in contact with,” the chief said in an interview with CNBC’s The News with Shepherd Smith. He also said that any business owner in Texas has rights over their property. As such they have the right to “follow science” and request their patrons and customers to wear masks while on their property, even if the expiration of the State-wide mask order is in effect. Earlier this year, infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that he believed Americans will need to wear face masks even in 2022.

The interview follows the news of the death of a Louisiana police officer in a mask-wearing dispute in February. Businesses in Texas that have stated their intention to wear masks and request the same of their patrons are already facing a backlash. When asked about this, Acevedo said that while he understood that mask-wearing was a sensitive issue among Texans, his priority was to keep the community he served safe. “Don’t get yourself arrested, and don’t get yourself in trouble by trying to cause a ruckus… when the play is called, we’re going to do our very best to run it to the best of our ability,” he said.

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