Texas loses at court, Austin’s mask mandate to stay in place for at least 2 weeks

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas District Court judge refused to grant the State of Texas an emergency, temporary injunction on Friday, meaning the mask mandate from Austin and Travis County will stay in place for at least two more weeks.

This is not a final ruling, and the judge could still choose to side with the state after hearing more arguments. Judge Lora Livingston said she wanted more time for each side to make their case. She set another hearing for March 26.

But this means Austin and Travis County will be able to enforce its mask mandate through spring break, which starts this weekend. Travis County Judge Andy Brown tweeted shortly after the judge’s ruling.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that ended the statewide mask mandate on March 10 and 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.

Attorney General Ken Paxton then sued to uphold the conservative governor’s executive order in the liberal-led Texas capital.

Paxton has not commented on the case to the media but has commented a few times on Twitter, saying Thursday, “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.”

As of noon Thursday, he had not tweeted following the judge’s ruling.

In Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, Judge Nelson Wolff said he’s closely watching the result of Austin’s lawsuit.

Bexar County avoided conflict with the state by instead requiring businesses to clearly post COVID-19 precautions for customers.

Should Austin win the lawsuit against Paxton, Wolff said Bexar County won’t be far behind.

“Yeah, if it becomes really clear that we can do that, we’d do that,” Wolff told KXAN.

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