Texas, somewhat unsurprisingly, became of the first US state to boisterously declare that they would be reopening their economy to full capacity in the coming weeks, as the end of the coronavirus pandemic appears imminent at this point.
Not only would business allowed to reopen fully, but Texas Governor Greg Abbott also declared that there would be no more statewide mask mandate.
The City of Austin, a blue dot on a red map if there ever was one, decided that they would pass their own mask mandate – citing their belief that the Governor’s presumption was premature.
Now the Lone Star State’s Attorney General is threatening to sue the city over the decision.
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Texas’ attorney general on Wednesday threatened to sue officials in Austin and Travis County if they did not lift local mask mandates. The announcement comes after Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order last week to lift the statewide mask mandate, despite warnings from health officials about reopening prematurely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor’s executive order, which took effect Wednesday, also lifted capacity restrictions on the state’s businesses. It allowed local officials to impose “mitigation strategies” if hospitalizations surge, but banned them from punishing residents who defy mask guidance and from limiting business capacity to less than 50%. Private businesses are still able to require masks on their premises, but are no longer required to do so per the governor.
Here’s where it gets wonky:
Despite Abbot’s executive order, Attorney General Ken Paxton said in letter Wednesday that officials in the city of Austin — and the county that contains it — stated that “local orders requiring individuals to wear face masks while outside their homes will continue unabated.” He addressed the letter to Travis County Judge Andy Brown and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, both of whom have said local mask mandates will remain in effect.
Texas’ decision has been a controversial one, drawing heavy criticism from a great deal of the national political spectrum…particularly from the left side of the aisle.
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