Riddle me this, Governor

Parody is dead.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued a new executive order Wednesday that mandates face coverings for the general public and directs businesses to require employees and customers to wear them in situations where social distancing is not feasible.

The order requires all “commercial entities” in Bexar County to implement a health and safety policy that includes mandatory face coverings in situations involving close contact with others. Failure to implement the policy by Monday could result in a fine up to $1,000, according to the order.

Wolff’s order, which comes amid a surge in positive coronavirus cases and patients hospitalized with COVID-19, seems to clash with that of Gov. Greg Abbott, who said in April that no local jurisdictions would be able to fine or jail people for not wearing a face covering. Download Wolff’s order here.

“Judge Wolff’s order is not inconsistent with the Governor’s executive order,” John Wittman, a spokesman for Abbott, told the Texas Tribune. “Our office urges officials and the public to adopt and follow the health protocols for businesses established by doctors” that are available online.

Under the new order, an individual couldn’t be fined for failure to wear a mask, but businesses can be penalized for failing to implement face-covering policies. Though the County order is “pushing the legal bounds” against the state order, Bexar County attorneys say they can defend it in court, Wolff said at a news conference.

“We cannot rely on the state to do what needs to be done,” said Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, who joined Wolff at the news conference.

In an interview with KWTX-TV in Waco, Abbott said Wolff has “finally figured” out what locals can do with masks under statewide order: “Government cannot require individuals to wear masks. However, pursuant to my plan, local governments can require stores and business to require masks.”

“Local governments can require stores and business to require masks. That’s what was authorized in my plan,” Abbott added. “Businesses … they’ve always had the opportunity and the ability, just like they can require people to wear shoes and shirts, these businesses can require people to wear face masks if they come into their businesses. Now local officials are just now realizing that that was authorized.”

State democrats took issue with Abbott’s lack of clarity.

“If only the Governor had been clear all along that his executive order was a riddle for counties and cities to solve,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-San Antonio) said in an email to the Rivard Report. “Earlier today, I urged him to unshackle local leaders by restoring their authority to set rules essential to protecting public health; I hope he continues on this path.”

Apparently, Greg Abbott has been channeling the Sphinx all this time. Who knew? Maybe there’s also some buried treasure out there, waiting for someone to decipher all the clues in his public statements. I can’t do this justice, so let me outsource some of the snark to a conservative talk radio host:

Perhaps if the original executive order – you know, the one Abbott soon after abandoned in a panic following the outcry from disaffected mullet-wearers – had included the instructions to click our heels together three times, we might have figured it out sooner. Lesson learned for the future, I suppose.

Anyway. Now that we have apparently leveled up, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is considering a similar order, which I hope she follows through on. I for one am never going to get over this particular piece of idiocy.

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8 Responses to Riddle me this, Governor

  1. Pingback: Hotze versus contact tracing – Off the Kuff

  2. Jules says:

    Un-fucking-believable. Greg “The Riddler” Abbott giggling as he leads Texans to death.

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    With restaurants, bars, and cafes open, how are they going to be forced to require a mask? It is going to be hard for people to eat their cheeseburger wearing a mask. It doesn’t seem that the mask will help much if you wear it going in to order, and then take it off for 40 minutes to eat. The safest way to stay at a restaurant or bar is at an outdoor table.

    the solution is to shut everything down again, as the experts say, for about 18 months. That’s what should have been done in the first place.

  4. brad says:

    Not sure how easy it is for Abbott to push the wheels on this wheelchair with so much blood on his hands.

  5. C.L. says:

    I don’t know who’s more at fault here – the Governor with his cryptic ruling in April that provided no remedy, just a ‘you can’t do that’, or the March legislators who didn’t think it through to begin with.

  6. Pingback: Masks up – Off the Kuff

  7. Pingback: From the “Live by the leaked audio, die by the leaked audio” department – Off the Kuff

  8. Pingback: Hidalgo issues new mask order – Off the Kuff

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