AUSTIN (KXAN) — After giving the City of Austin an ultimatum Wednesday to rescind its COVID-19 orders or face legal pushback, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton moved forward with filing a lawsuit against the city and its leaders Thursday, according to the Texas Tribune.
On Wednesday, Paxton threatened to sue the City of Austin if it did not remove its COVID-19 restrictions by 6 p.m. He said the City of Austin’s restrictions go against Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to remove the statewide mask mandate and business capacity restrictions altogether in Texas.
“I told Travis County & The City of Austin to comply with state mask law. They blew me off. So, once again, I’m dragging them to court,” Paxton tweeted on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Austin leaders and Travis County Judge Andy Brown said they had no plans to rescind their orders for the area.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement Thursday he and Brown will fight to defend their rights to enforce local health officials’ rules, which are based off science and data.
“Wearing masks is perhaps the most important thing we can do to slow the spread of the virus. We are not aware of any Texas court that has allowed state leadership to overrule the health protection rules of a local health authority. Masks work! The Attorney General is simply wrong. So again, #MaskUpATX,” the rest of the statement read.
Brown said in a statement Thursday he will continue to listen to medical professionals and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and that “it is unfortunate the attorney general is once again failing to make the health of our community his priority.”
While the new lawsuit names Adler and Brown, it also lists Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott, too. The state is requesting a temporary restraining order and a temporary injunction on the City of Austin’s rules.
This is not the first time Paxton and the City of Austin have had disagreements over restrictions. In December, the City of Austin implemented protocols on dine-in services at bars and restaurants for the New Year’s weekend to help prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The suit was taken to the Texas Supreme Court, where Paxton won.