Judge Wins Temporary Restraining Order Against Greg Abbott's Mask Mandate Ban

A legal ruling against Texas Governor Greg Abbott's mask mandate ban could pave the way for an immediate introduction of the COVID mitigation measure in Dallas County.

It comes as the number of people hospitalized by the disease in the Lone Star State continues to rise, with 10,041 Texas hospital patients as of Monday, the most for six months.

On Monday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins filed a temporary restraining order against the mask mandate ban from Abbott.

Last month, the governor's executive order consolidated prohibitions on mask mandates, COVID-19-related business restrictions and vaccination requirements.

Moments ago, I received a copy of The Hon. Tonya Parker’s order enjoining @GovAbbott from stopping local mask requirements here. I’ll get feedback from health,education and business leaders tonight and in the morning with the anticipation of issuing an emergency order tomorrow.

— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) August 11, 2021

But District Court Judge Tonya Parker wrote in her ruling that "immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result" if Jenkins was unable to mandate COVID-19 measures.

She said that Jenkins' position as county judge means that he leads the government in providing safety for all citizens "who have and will continue to be damaged by Governor Abbot's conduct, including, but not limited to" his executive order. The restraining order expires on August 24.

After Tuesday's ruling, Jenkins tweeted he would liaise with health, education and business leaders, "with the anticipation of issuing an emergency order tomorrow," referring to Wednesday.

He had earlier told NBC 5 that following the discussions, the aim was, "to put in place reasonable mask requirements that will keep our kids and the rest of us safe."

There is growing defiance to Abbott's executive order with Dallas Independent School District (ISD) officials announcing on Monday that students and teachers will be required to wear masks on campus.

Austin ISD also announced that masks would be required, while Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II wants to issue a mandate, a move that would be discussed at a school board meeting this week, the Texas Tribune reported.

On Tuesday night, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner announced that masks will be required in indoor facilities and buses when students return next week.

"The safety of students and staff has and always will be our priority," Scribner said.

Newsweek has contacted Jenkins and Gov. Abbott's office for comment.

Earlier on Tuesday, Abbott's spokesperson Ranae Eze issued a statement which said that "violating the Governor's executive orders" was "not the way" to protect Texas children and that Abbott would continue to encourage Texans to get vaccinated.

She said that Abbott "has been clear that the time for mask mandates is over, now is the time for personal responsibility."

"Parents and guardians have the right to decide whether their child will wear a mask or not."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on June 30, 2021 in Weslaco, Texas. A judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the governor's state-wide mask mandate ban. Brandon Bell/Getty