Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued on Thursday the Mayor of Astin, the state capital, and Travis County, where part of the city sits, for keeping the facemask requirement in place in defiance of this state’s order to rescind restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit is asking the court for a temporary restraining order requiring Austin and Travis County officials to refrain from imposing the mask requirement on their residents.
As of Wednesday, Texas lifted the facemask order and is allowing all commercial establishments to open at maximum capacity, but both Austin and Travis County decided to maintain the use of facemasks, arguing that it helps minimize the risk of contagion.
Paxton had given an ultimatum on Wednesday to Judge Andy Brown, who presides over Travis County government, and Austin Mayor Steve Adler to abide by the suspension, arguing that the decision to require masks or impose limits “does not rest with jurisdictions such as cities or the county.”
Faced with the refusal from the two Democrats, Paxton filed the lawsuit.
In a message on his Twitter account, Paxton stressed on Thursday the had told Travis County and the City of Austin to comply with state law on masks. “Adler will never do the right thing on his own. His obstruction won’t stop me from keeping TX free and open!,” he wrote.
For his part, Adler replied in a statement that “the judge and I will fight to defend and enforce the rules for our local health officials for as long as possible, using all the power and tools available to us.”
Governor Greg Abbott decided to remove the restrictions and reopen the economy, justifying his decision to open 100% by referring to the “good rate of vaccination”, and taking into account that lockdowns cause higher unemployment and poverty.