People can still be arrested for not wearing a mask in Texas businesses, despite Gov. Greg Abbott rescinding his statewide mask order, which lifts Wednesday.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, who delivered a strong message to Texans who refuse to comply with private businesses’ policies on wearing masks, said that business property rights in the Lone Star State give them the tools to keep the peace.
“Our officers are well-versed on the laws, there’s something called ‘criminal trespass’ here in the state of Texas, and if a business asks an individual to wear the mask and they refuse to leave, they can be arrested for criminal trespass,” said Acevedo.
The chief said they can also issue someone a criminal trespass warning, which would prohibit them from entering the establishment for at least a year.
In a Tuesday evening interview on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith,” Acevedo said that Texas businesses have property rights and some will choose to “follow science and require masks,” regardless of the expiration of the statewide mask order on March 10.
White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he believed people would need to continue wearing face masks into 2022. Acevedo said that his officers will be wearing masks well after March 10.
“They have to continue to wear masks to protect themselves and protect the public they come in contact with, and they’re going to continue to do that until we all get our vaccines, not just in law enforcement, but across the country, hopefully by May,” Acevedo said.
In Louisiana, a police officer was killed over a mask-wearing dispute in February. Some businesses in Texas are already facing backlash for saying they will maintain mask rules. The chief told host Shepard Smith that he understood that masks are a fraught issue, but that his top priority is to keep Texans safe.
“I would urge Texans, or anyone dealing with this, just take your business somewhere else. But don’t get yourself arrested, and don’t get yourself in trouble by trying to cause a ruckus. … but that’s what we do in law enforcement when the play is called we’re going to do our very best to run it to the very best of our ability,” Acevedo said.