UPDATE: Appeals court lifts city of El Paso mask mandate, partially


Justice appointed by Texas governor signs in dissent of appeals court order

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A Texas appeals court in El Paso lifted the area’s mask mandate, partially, on Friday morning, according to an order.

A mask mandate cannot be enforced, generally, but the order said masks can still be required on school district property and to workers and guests on city property.

The order comes after a Texas Supreme Court decision over mask-wearing in the city of San Antonio and Bexar County was made on Thursday.

In Austin, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked a mask mandate issued by the local governments to slow the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. The mandate had been issued as schools started in-person instruction.

But in El Paso, a separate lawsuit continues as the 8th Court of Appeals reviews a suit filed by the city of El Paso against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates.

Two of the three judges on the appeals court in El Paso agreed to the order. Chief Justice Yvonne Rodriguez and Justice Gina Palafox signed in support of the order. Justice Jeff Alley, who was appointed to the court by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, signed in dissent.

Late Thursday night, the city of El Paso issued a statement saying the Texas solicitor general issued a letter to the 8th Court of Appeals urging the court to rule in favor of the governor due to the San Antonio case.

The city of El Paso has since filed its response to the court.

“As of today, the City has not received a ruling from the 8th Court of Appeals. The order issued by the Texas Supreme Court does not affect the validity of the order issued by El Paso City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza,” a statement from the city said Thursday. “The local mask mandate is still in effect in El Paso County.”

Last week, Ocaranza issued the mask mandate citing rising concerns of the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. The area’s school districts issued their own mandates shortly after.

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