Following an emergency court hearing, Travis County Judge Andy Brown announced Judge Lora Livingston’s refusal to grant the State of Texas an emergency, temporary injunction on Friday. As a result, the requirement to wear masks in Travis County and Austin businesses will remain in effect for at least two more weeks.
Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the city for its decision to override Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order which would “open Texas 100 percent.” City officials announced that they would continue to require masks and designate violations of the public health order as a Class C misdemeanor, to which Paxton responded: “on behalf of the State of Texas, I will sue you.”
“We have already taken you to court under similar circumstances. You lost. If you continue to flout the law in this manner, we’ll take you to court again and you will lose again,” Paxton wrote.
In spite of Paxton’s warning that if officials continue to “flout the law in this manner, we’ll take you to court again and you will lose again,” Judge Livingston’s decision enables Austin and Travis County to enforce its mask mandate through spring break.
Another hearing has been scheduled for March 26, and so the decision falls short of a final ruling. However, should Austin win the lawsuit, it is likely to influence the decisions of other densely populated counties. Bexar County’s Judge Nelson Wolff has indicated his consideration of similar measures.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler praised the “good news” on Twitter and went on to declare: “No matter what happens then, we will continue to be guided by doctors and data. Masking works.”