Texas mayors urge governor to grant them the authority to require face masks


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso Mayor Dee Margo along with several other mayors from Texas’ biggest cities urged Gov. Greg Abbott in a letter Tuesday to grant them the “authority to set rules and regulations on the use of face coverings” in their respective cities.

Although COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, a recent executive order from Abbott bans local governments from imposing fines or any criminal penalties on people who refuse to wear face masks publicly.

“(A) one-size-fits-all approach is not the best option. We should trust local officials to make informed choices about health policy. And if mayors are given the opportunity to require face coverings, we believe our cities will be ready to help reduce the spread of this disease,” the mayors wrote.

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The mayors want Abbott to allow each city leader to decide if face coverings should be mandated to prevent the virus in their respective cities.

“We think you would agree that a healthy economy starts with healthy people. If you do not have plans to mandate face coverings statewide, we ask that you restore the ability for local authorities to enforce the wearing of face coverings in public venues where physical distancing cannot be practiced,” the letter said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (Center R) approaches the line for people to attend the public viewing for George Floyd outside the Fountain of Praise church on June 8, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Floyd died May 25 while in Minneapolis police custody, sparking nationwide protests. A white police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder, with the three other officers involved facing other charges. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Abbott has continued to encourage the use of face coverings on Texans, but in a news conference on Tuesday, he once again disagreed with the idea of imposing penalties on people who won’t wear one.

“I make clear on a daily basis around the entire state of Texas that wearing a mask is very important, and local officials send that message,” Abbott said in Tuesday’s press conference. “Putting people in jail, however, is the wrong approach for this thing.”

According to Abbott, local officials have other tools at their disposal to slow the spread of the virus.

The letter has been signed by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner; San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg; Austin Mayor Steve Adler; Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson; Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price; Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams; Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere; Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen; and Margo.

To read the full letter, click here.

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