AUSTIN (KXAN) — Mayors of Texas’ largest cities sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday requesting authority to regulate the use of face coverings to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler joined the mayors of Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington, Plano, and Grand Prairie in signing on to the letter that asks for more than a “one-size-fits-all approach” to battling the pandemic.
“We are writing to you for the authority to set rules and regulations on the use of face coverings in each of our cities,” the letter reads. “We should trust local officials to make informed choices about health policy.
In May, Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to Austin-Travis County leaders criticizing what he called “Orwellian” orders, directing leaders to discontinue local orders that contradicted orders issued by Abbott. Face coverings were previously required outside the home in Austin.
Abbott on Tuesday said people under 30 who are visiting bars or other social gatherings are causing COVID-19 cases to rise in some communities, two weeks after he allowed bars to increase capacity to 50%.
Patients 20-29 years old make up 24% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Austin-Travis County, more than any other age group.
“There have been pictures that I have seen and others have seen about these bar-type settings where clearly the standards are not being followed,” Abbott said.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said in a press release that it will be “strictly monitoring” bars and restaurants to see if social distancing and capacity guidelines are being followed. An initial violation can result in a business’s license being suspended for 30 days, 60 days for a second offense.
KXAN reached out to TABC to see if any Central Texas businesses have been cited for violating social distancing or capacity guidelines, but did not receive a response.