More than three months have passed since Houston’s mask enforcement started, and despite rising coronavirus cases, ABC13 has learned there’s been no documented enforcement.
Right now if you’re in the city of Houston and not able to maintain social distance within a group, you’re supposed to wear a mask or you could get in trouble. Violators are supposed to start with a warning, and then move to a ticket.
Even on the city’s Mask Up Houston website it states, “The Houston Police Department has started issuing citations to people who are not wearing masks in public.”
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But are officers enforcing it? We asked neighbors what they think.
“Probably very few,” Jon-Michael Tucker said. “I think they’ve probably been pretty lenient on it.”
“Ten, or maybe less than 100,” Juan Castillo said.
“Zero,” Danielle Boisvert said.
The city’s mask enforcement started on Aug. 3. ABC13 asked HPD if it has any documented warnings. The agency told us, no.
ABC13 also asked the municipal court for the number of tickets. Our records request revealed not a single ticket has been given.
“Really? I mean,” Castillo said.
“It’s disappointing, but I’m not sure about enforcement,” Boisvert said.
SEE ALSO: Here’s what a legal expert had to say about the $250 mask order fine
Earlier this week, Mayor Sylvester Turner told us mask enforcement is one tool he’ll use as COVID-19 cases grow.
“I’ve instructed Chief Acevedo and HPD to recognize that, to play our part to do whatever we can to keep this virus in a manageable state,” Turner said during a news conference on Monday.
But on Friday, Chief Art Acevedo said officers are focused on other issues.
“I don’t think it’ll be our number one priority,” Acevedo explained. “As you can imagine, we’re trying to impact violent crime, but it is something where you are subject to a $250 citation.”
Houston isn’t the only city where you could get a ticket for not following the state’s mask mandate. In El Paso, neighbors can receive tickets as well.
According to documents ABC13 obtained, El Paso officers have issued 29 violations for people not wearing face coverings.
As the number of cases rise in Houston, some neighbors would like to see officers enforcing the mandate.
“You see what happens when you don’t take precautions, and if this is how you want to do it, we know what’s to come,” Tierra Mayes said.
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