AUSTIN (Nexstar) — With no checkpoints along the border, Texas appears to be playing by the honor system as state troopers try to enforce new quarantine requirements implemented by Gov. Greg Abbott.
This time, the border in question belongs to Texas and Louisiana. Abbott used his power to issue executive orders to “reduce importing COVID-19 into the state of Texas.”
“The best way to do that is to do all that we can to restrict travel into Texas from areas that have a high rate of COVID-19,” including Louisiana, Abbott said Sunday.
A series of his executive orders require mandatory self-quarantine by air travelers from New Orleans and anyone driving into Texas from Louisiana. Any air traveler entering Texas from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, and the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Washington must also fill out these Texas Department of Public Safety forms and self-quarantine for 14 days, Abbott mandated.
The orders exempt individuals traveling into the state in connection with commercial activity, military service, emergency response, health response, or critical-infrastructure functions.
Abbott tapped the Texas Department of Public Safety to administer the program.
“DPS is vigorously enforcing these orders,” a department spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement Monday.
“A covered person under the mandated quarantines shall remain in the designated quarantine location for a period of 14 days or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter,” the spokesperson reiterated. Violators face fines and jail time.
While troopers stepped up presence along Texas’ eastern border, and digital signage with messaging explaining no personal travel is allowed, there are no checkpoints set up to keep the state’s quarantine plan airtight. Drivers were seen crossing into Texas with no barrier of entry, meaning no way to verify who was arriving in a commercial or infrastructure role, and who was arriving for personal travel.
“I was kind of wondering what’s going on,” truck driver Mike Fower said Monday. “I saw the billboard up here on freeway, I’m not sure exactly what that is.”
“I just came from Louisiana and I haven’t seen anything in Louisiana stating that, and I saw the sign saying quarantine from noon on today and I’m not sure exactly what that means,” Fower said.
DPS declined an interview request and “will not discuss specifics related to its operational plans regarding enforcement.”
The agency was short on details about enforcement, but explained “DPS will not be establishing checkpoints along the Texas/Louisiana border,” at this time, the department spokesperson wrote Monday.
“It is important for those who fall under the self-quarantine mandates to remember that a violation of the Governor’s Executive Orders is subject to criminal penalties,” the department spokesperson wrote, echoing a previous statement and the Governor’s remarks.
Mye Owens contributed to this report.