Judge lets Austin keep mask mandate in legal battle with Texas AG Ken Paxton

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Masks are still required in Austin-Travis County.

On Friday, Travis County District Court Judge Lora Livingston ruled in favor of Austin-Travis County in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton sued the city two weeks ago for continuing its mask mandate after Gov. Greg Abbott rolled back COVID-19 safety orders, including a state-level mask mandate, March 10.

Travis County Judge Andy Brown said in a statement that the county remains committed to following science and health experts’ advice.

“Today’s court ruling allowing the Health Authority’s rules to remain in place and keep the mask requirements for businesses puts the health and safety of our public above all else during this pandemic,” the statement reads.

The legal battle isn’t over — Paxton’s office can challenge the ruling in the Texas Court of Appeals. But the mask mandate will remain in place.

An initial ruling March 12 by Livingston allowed the city’s mandate to continue while both sides used the two-week period to prepare their cases.

Abbott issued an executive order that not only ended the statewide mask mandate on March 10 but also reopened Texas businesses to 100% capacity. That order overruled local ordinances, but Austin and Travis County refused to comply, saying they were doing so at the guidance of their health authority, Dr. Mark Escott.

Paxton then sued to uphold the governor’s executive order.

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