Governor Greg Abbott banned mask mandates in Texas days ago and has not lifted it yet despite surging cases brought about by the highly contagious Delta variant of coronavirus. In a statement by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff said that they could only encourage citizens to wear masks. But their hands are tied as to implementing mask mandates.
Nirenberg and Wolff said that they would put mask mandates in order if they could. Last week, Nirenberg blasted Abbott’s ban calling it a “callous disregard for life and safety.”
Local authorities did not mandate masks in public spaces, city facilities, or schools in San Antonio. However, Joint Base San Antonio leaders announced last week that a mask mandate will be imposed regardless of a person’s vaccination status. The mandate will cover visitors, staff, and military personnel at the base.
Also, private entities and businesses like SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas have put mandates in place. For SeaWorld, all guests indoors are required to wear masks. For Six Flags Fiesta Texas, they are only recommending the use of masks for unvaccinated visitors.
Other areas in Texas placed mask mandate orders earlier this week. Dallas courthouses require the use of masks, and this covers anyone who will enter the courtrooms. Dallas County put the mask mandate in place, citing that they have judicial authority during the pandemic and Abbott’s mask mandate ban does not cover them.
In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced through a memo that their employees should wear a mask starting Wednesday this week. They can remove their masks if they are alone in their work areas or are six feet away from other people.
Aside from San Antonio, Austin and Travis County have also not put mask mandates in place.
Abbott said days ago that he is banning local governments from putting mask mandates in place because the responsibility to observe health protocols should already be shifted to the residents. Abbott said that mask mandates must only be in place for state-supporting living centers and government-operated hospitals.