Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued an emergency order for mask requirements Wednesday, the day after securing a temporary restraining order against Gov. Greg Abbott’s mask mandate ban.
The emergency order requires all child care centers, PreK-12 public schools and commercial entities to develop a health and safety policy, that must require, at a minimum, universal indoor masking.
Indoor masking will also be required inside all Dallas County buildings going forward.
The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, August 11, but it is already facing a legal challenge.
Hours after Jenkins signed the executive order Wednesday afternoon. Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the filing of a petition to “strike down Dallas County’s mask mandate.”
“Under Executive Order GA-38, no governmental entity can require or mandate the wearing of masks,” said Governor Abbott in a press release. “The path forward relies on personal responsibility—not government mandates.”
In May, Governor Abbott’s issued an executive order prohibiting “governmental entities and officials from mandating face coverings.”
Tuesday, Dallas County District Judge Tonya Parker ruled Gov. Abbott’s order prohibiting mask mandates is not a “necessary action to combat the pandemic.”
It came after parents of 12 Dallas County students asked Judge Parker to allow local school districts to mandate masks.
“My daughter happens to be one of the medically-fragile children that’s involved in this lawsuit who really thrives in class but who has medical issues and could really be put at risk if she gets COVID,” said parent Melissa Griffith.
Jenkins announced the restraining order Monday as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to surge across the county and North Texas. It came after Dallas ISD said it would require masks in spite of Abbott’s executive order on Monday. Some other major Texas school districts, including Fort Worth ISD, followed suit on Tuesday.
In her ruling, 116th Civil District Court Judge Tonya Parker wrote, “immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result” if Jenkins cannot mandate mitigation measures against COVID-19.