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Texas Governor Abbott bans officials from requiring face masks, introduces $1,000 fine for those who do

Governmental entities in the US state of Texas will be banned from mandating mask-wearing from June 4 in places such as schools, after Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on face coverings rules on Tuesday.

The move means officials at county level, in cities, school districts, public health authorities and government will not be able to require people to cover their face, Abbott's office announced in a statement.

From May 21, local governments or officials who try to enforce mask-wearing in Texas could be slapped with fines of up to $1,000.

Schools may follow existing guidelines until June 4, and state-run hospitals and detention facilities will be exempt from Abbott's executive order.

"Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities," Abbott said in a statement.

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The governor also pledged to use vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs to continue the fight against Covid-19, while "defending Texans' liberty" by giving them a choice over mask-wearing.

Abbott is known for his tough views on face masks and in March issued an executive order to lift the mask mandate, to instead rely on other measures such as vaccines.

More than 39% of the population of Texas has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to state data.

President Joe Biden has said vaccinated Americans may shed their masks, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends face coverings for those not yet immunized.

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