Mar 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Judge in Texas says Austin mask mandate can stay in place for now

People wearing masks inside the Texas state Capitol building in Austin on March 10.
People wearing masks inside the Texas state Capitol building in Austin on March 10. Photo: Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images

Officials in Austin and Travis County, Texas, can continue to enforce their mask mandates for at least two more weeks after a district judge on Friday refused to grant the state an emergency temporary restraining order, NBC affiliate KXAN reports.

Why it matters: The decision keeps the mandate in place through the spring breaks of many schools in the Austin area.

Context: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the city on Thursday, claiming the city's leadership was defying an order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott last week that rescinded a statewide mask mandate.

  • The suit alleges the governor's order "preempts more restrictive local emergency orders."
  • The executive order, which took effect Wednesday, does allow local governments to enforce mask mandates in regions where coronavirus hospitalizations rise above 15% of bed capacity for seven consecutive days.

What she's saying: "People have been wearing masks for a year. I don't know that two more weeks is going to matter one way or the other," Judge Lora Livingston said during a Friday hearing, according to the Austin-American Statesman

Yes, but: The action is not a final ruling. Livingston could still side with the state after hearing more arguments.

  • The judge scheduled another hearing for March 26, according to KXAN.
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