On Sunday, the Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling that could mean the end for the mask mandate implemented by Dallas County judge Clay Jenkins last week. According to Jenkins, though, he plans to continue enforcing the mandate.
In response to the Supreme Court’s issuance of a stay prohibiting the enforcement of a mask mandate, Jenkins was defiant. “The Texas Supreme Court did not strike down my mask order,” he wrote on Twitter. “Unless I receive a ruling requiring otherwise, I will amend my order to remove the possibility of fines on non-compliant businesses but otherwise leave the order in effect.”
That Texas Supreme Court ruling came late on Sunday evening, issuing a stay on the temporary restraining order filed by Jenkins against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The restraining order, issued by Dallas County district judge Tonya Parker, prevented Abbott from enforcing GA-38, the executive order issued by the governor that bans local officials like Jenkins from implementing COVID-19 safety measures like mask mandates and capacity reduction for businesses.
Abbott’s office appealed Parker’s decision all the way to the Republican-packed Texas Supreme Court, which issued the stay preventing the implementation of mask mandates. The fight isn’t over yet, though — the stay only prevents Dallas County from enforcing the mask mandate now, pending a hearing on the full merits of Jenkins’s argument that Gov. Abbott doesn’t have the authority to prohibit local officials from making decisions in the midst of a disaster like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Originally, Jenkins’s order required restaurants and all “commercial entities,” or businesses that offer goods and services in Dallas County, to develop health and safety plans that include mask mandates and publicly post them within three days. Childcare centers, schools, and day-cares were also included in the order.
Jenkins isn’t the only area official that’s planning to enforce mask mandates despite the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling. Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of Dallas Independent School District, has also announced that all public schools in the district will require students and teachers to mask up when school starts this week.
A hearing on the Dallas County mask mandate is set for today. “We won’t stop working with parents, doctors, schools, and businesses to protect you, and intend to win that hearing,” Jenkins wrote on Twitter.