San Antonio sues Abbott over restrictions on mask, vaccine mandates

The city of San Antonio is suing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over the governor’s executive order barring local governments from imposing mask and vaccine mandates.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement that the city is “challenging the governor’s authority to suspend local emergency orders during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic,”

“Ironically, the governor is taking a state law meant to facilitate local action during an emergency and using it to prohibit local response to the emergency that he himself declared,” Nirenberg said.

The City of San Antonio and Bexar County filed the suit in a Bexar County court asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the enforcement of the order.

If the court grants the order, the San Antonio Bexar County Health Authority will issue an order requiring masks in public schools and requiring unvaccinated students who are determined to be in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to quarantine.

Abbott signed the executive order in late July, which bans governmental entities — including schools districts— from imposing mask mandates. It also prevents governmental entities from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine that is under emergency use authorization. 

Entities that implement measures that constitutes a “failure to comply with” the order could be fined up to $1,000.

The Dallas County Independent School District (ISD) said Monday that it is mandating all staff, students and visitors to wear masks despite the order.

On the same day, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the state from imposing the measure

But San Antonio’s suit also comes as other GOP governors seek to block local officials from imposing mask mandates, particularly for schools, despite increases in coronavirus infections fueled by the delta variant.

A similar dispute is playing out in Florida, which has become the epicenter of COVID-19 cases. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is threatening to withhold salaries from school officials who enforce mask mandates.

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