Austin mayor fights back against Texas governor’s order to end mask mandate and coronavirus restrictions
Although Texas is a light red state, its large urban centers lean Democratic — including Austin and Houston, both of which have Democratic mayors who vehemently disagree with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's recent decision to lift the state's mask mandate and coronavirus restrictions. And Democratic leaders in Travis County (which includes Austin) and Harris County (which includes Houston) now find themselves in a legal battle with Abbott's administration over the matter.
Travis County and Harris County want to keep mask mandates in place, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued those counties as a result.
Paxton tweeted, "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." And Austin Mayor Steve Adler said that along with Travis County Judge Andy Brown, he will "fight to defend and enforce our local health officials' rules for as long as possible using all the power and tools available to us."
Adler, in an official statement, declared, "We promised to be guided by the doctors, science and data as concerns the pandemic, and we do everything we can to keep that promise. Wearing masks is perhaps the most important thing we can do to slow the spread of the virus."
I told Travis County & The City of Austin to comply with state mask law. They blew me off. So, once again, I’m drag… https://t.co/DBVOzAAGKX— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@Attorney General Ken Paxton) 1615494300.0
Good news! We learned this morning that Austin's mask rules will remain in effect for the next two weeks. We return… https://t.co/2qq7YR0eeV— Mayor Adler | 😷wear a mask. (@Mayor Adler | 😷wear a mask.) 1615572956.0
Elizabeth Dixie Patrick, executive director of the Austin Independent Business Alliance, believes that Abbott is putting Austin's businesses in a bad position.
Patrick told The Guardian, "The governor's order is emboldening the people who are feeling like they have this right to put their own comfort above the safety of their fellow citizens."
According to Patrick, "The difference between encouraging mask wearing and mandating mask wearing is about who has to tell people, 'No, you can't endanger other people.' To place another burden on small business owners right now, when they're already struggling just to stay afloat, creates all of this unnecessary anxiety."
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