Austin Clubhouse shutters doors after Gov. Abbott prohibits mask mandates

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Public entities that receive state funding are bound by Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, which prohibits them from mandating masks or asking for vaccination proof.

An Austin organization said it’s having to shutter its doors all over again because of it.

The Austin Clubhouse, located at 610 East 45th Street, is an organization that offers support for adults experiencing a mental health illness.

“We have meetings every day at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.,” said Austin Clubhouse Executive Director Sharon Lowe.

In June, Lowe reopened the doors for the more than 100 active club members.

“We thought we could receive vaccination status and continue to operate with masks, but then we received the governor’s order, and since we receive state funding, we can’t,” said Lowe.

  • Austin Clubhouse (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Austin Clubhouse (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Austin Clubhouse (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Austin Clubhouse (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Austin Clubhouse (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)

Twenty-five percent of the clubhouse budget comes from state funding, meaning mask requirements can’t happen. The doors shut again on August 2, just two months after reopening in more than a year.

“When we could be back in person again and step into the physical space, the world came alive,” said Jason Kelly, clubhouse member.

Closing down to in person visits has put a damper on Kelly’s recovery process.

“You can see people’s eyes lowered, it’s like, oh my gosh, here we go again,” said Kelly.

The ability to cook, eat and be in community together is at a stand still for now, but the support through the computer screen continues.

The clubhouse sent a letter to the governor’s office asking that he allow them to request vaccine proof or mandate masks while Travis County remains in Stage 4 or higher.

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