Judge Rules Against Abbott’s Executive Order Banning Mask Mandates
UFC 265: Lewis v Gane HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 07: Governor of Texas Greg Abbott is seen in attendance during the UFC 265 event at Toyota Center on August 07, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC) Cooper Neill / Contributor via Getty Images
Cooper Neill / Zuffa LLC / Contributor via Getty Images

A judge ruled against an executive order by Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) on Tuesday, saying that some local officials are temporarily allowed to require masks.

After officials in Bexar County sought a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s executive order barring government entities from requiring masks to be worn, a judge ruled in favor of granting the temporary restraining order.

“I don’t do this lightly,” the judge said during the hearing, according to local outlets. She said that an affidavit from the Metro Health Chief Medical Officer impacted her decision, along with the fact that children are going back to school.

“And those under 12, of course, as you know, don’t have access to the vaccine, and they’re already in school,” the judge said. “So I do find that this is emergent, I do find that it is necessary.”

Officials then took action to impose COVID-19 measures.

Local outlet KSAT reported:

With the ruling, the city and county will “immediately issue an order requiring masks in public schools and requiring quarantine if an unvaccinated student is determined to be in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual,” according to a news release. According to documents presented in court, they will also require face masks for employees of Bexar County and San Antonio and visitors to city and county facilities.

Governor Abbott’s press secretary, Renae Eze, said she anticipates higher courts to side with the governor’s directive.

“Governor Abbott’s resolve to protect the rights and freedoms of all Texans has not wavered,” she said in a statement. “There have been dozens of legal challenges to the Governor’s executive orders — all of which have been upheld in the end. We expect a similar outcome when the San Antonio trial court’s decision is reviewed by the appellate courts.”

In an interview Tuesday afternoon per The Washington Post, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg praised the judge’s ruling and called Abbott’s order a “reckless ban on face masks in schools.”

“We’ve seen during the course of this pandemic actions from state officials here and elsewhere devolve into pandering politics,” Nirenberg added. “And what we want to do is simply protect the lives and the health of our community.”

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins was also successful in seeking out a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s ban on Tuesday.

A Dallas County district judge ruled that Abbott’s executive order is not “necessary action to combat the pandemic.”

The judge wrote, “In his role, Judge Jenkins leads the County government in providing, among other services, safety protection for all citizens of Dallas County.”

Abbott recently announced steps to respond to the spread of the virus. He announced that he will “bring in additional medical personnel to staff hospitals,” “expand Antibody Infusion Centers to prevent hospitalization of those with COVID” and “make it easier to get a vaccination.”

In May, Abbott signed an executive order “prohibiting governmental entities in Texas — including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials — from requiring or mandating mask wearing,” per a press release.

The order also relates to the prohibition of “governmental entities and officials” from “restricting activities in response to the COVID-19 disaster.”

“The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities,” said Governor Abbott at the time. “Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up.”

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