AUSTIN, Texas – With the statewide mask mandate expiring Wednesday, keep your mask handy if you live in Austin. For now, anyway.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Austin city council member Gregorio Casar said the city will continue to require masks in public spaces under the rules of the health authority.
“BREAKING: The city of Austin continues to legally require masks in our community under the rules of our health department,” he wrote. “If state officials don’t want to do their job in this pandemic, we’ll do it ourselves. In Austin, we’re committed to saving lives. Period.”
????BREAKING: The city of Austin continues to require legally required masks in our community, according to the rules of our health department. If state officials don’t want to do their job in this pandemic, we’ll do it ourselves.
In Austin, we’re committed to saving lives. Period. #MaskUpATX ????
– Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) March 9, 2021
The announcement naturally raises questions about how such a mandate can be enforced. During his press conference on the lifting of the statewide mask mandate, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in essence that there will be no punishment for those who choose not to wear a mask.
Casar responded to this in a subsequent tweet.
“These measures are both legal and right,” he wrote. “Cities have independent authority under the TX Constitution, and state law allows cities to create health rules. If state officials sue Austin, they will do whatever they can to harm the health of Texans. “
There was no response from Abbott, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, or other state officials by Tuesday afternoon.