A Texas judge, Lora Livingston, ruled on Friday to keep the mask mandate until another trial scheduled for 26 March. The judge mentioned, according to NBC affiliate KXAN, that she is going to hear more arguments before making a final decision.
"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," Livingston said during a Friday hearing, cited by the Austin-American Statesman.
The complaint was addressed against city authorities, including county Judge Andy Brown, Austin Mayor Steve Adler Austin’s interim medical director and health authority Mark Escott. Adler expressed satisfaction that “Austin's mask rules will remain in effect for the next two weeks.”
“We return to court March 26. No matter what happens then, we will continue to be guided by doctors and data. Masking works,” he tweeted.
Judge Brown also welcomed the court’s ruling, thanking Austin attorney Delia Garcia “and team for fighting to keep the community safe.”
Paxton sued county authorities on Thursday over their motion to continue demanding obligatory masking inside of Travis County businesses in spite of Texas Governor Greg Abbott announcing on March 2 that he was lifting the statewide mask mandate and removing a number of other restrictive measures, including the maximum capacity of indoor facilities.
Attorney Paxton stressed that ‘the decision to require masks or otherwise impose COVID-19-related operating limits is expressly reserved to private businesses on their own premises. It does not rest with jurisdictions like the city of Austin or Travis County or their local health authorities."
Texas is among the US states most affected by the deadly pandemic. According to the latest data from the Texas health department, over 2.3 million new cases have been reported along with over 45,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Among other US states that have abolished the mask mandate are Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.