Administrative District Judge Maricela Moore of Dallas County, Texas, has put a mask mandate at the county courthouses. The order comes days after Governor Greg Abbott banned mask mandates in local communities.
The decision of Moore is based on the fact that the risk level of COVID-19 transmission is heightened once again because of the Delta variant. More and more cases are recorded every day, hospitalizations have increased, and the positivity rate jumped to higher percentages.
In the order of Moore, no one is exempted from the mask mandate. Persons entering the courthouses would need to wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status. The order said that the mask mandate would be enforced Monday, August 2.
Those who will refuse to wear a mask would not be allowed to enter the courthouse. “These are individuals who have been summoned, so I have the responsibility so that when they do come and serve that, I have done everything to ensure their health and safety,” Moore said. Aside from the mask mandate, more staff will be added, personal protective equipment will be available, and social distancing protocols will be observed.
When asked about Abbott’s ban on mask mandate through an executive order, Moore said there is no conflict with the order she issued. “There will not be a discussion of a conflict because one does not exist. He does not have the authority to control the courtrooms and I don’t think he intended to.”
Moore also said that they have to take reasonable actions to protect the people from the threat of the coronavirus during court proceedings. “The judiciary, that’s our lane, and we have a responsibility. We can’t delegate it to the governor. We have to take responsibility for the health and safety for those in our courtrooms,” she added.
Abbott has not yet commented on this.