Texas Governor Lifts Mask Mandate, Austin Venues Issue Their Own Guidelines

Is the “Live Music Capital Of The World” also know as Austin, Texas going back to things as normal?

Governor Greg Abbott as of March 10, lifted the mask mandate for the State of Texas. This action by the Governor was not celebrated by everyone. Several Austin venues have issued their own guidelines to keep patrons safe.

“With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” said Governor Abbott. “We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent. Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed. Today’s announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.” This was part of statement made by Governor Abbott on March 2.

The Red River Cultural District is known for its high concentration of hip nightlife venues on and around Red River Street in Austin. Red River Cultural District formed the “Safe In Sound” public code-of-conduct for attending its venues. Several Austin music venues, cultural institutions, performance spaces, and business leaders have signed on as co-authors of the initiative. The Safe In Sound members pledge to comply with the following standards:

  • Social Distancing – Six feet between individuals where possible
  • Masks – Requiring both employees and customers to wear facial coverings
  • Hand Washing – Hand sanitizer and other disinfectant materials are readily available for customers
  • Training – Employees have received proper training on cleaning guidelines and PPE utilization
  • Temperature Monitoring – Any employee or patron with a temperature above 100 is required to stay home
  • Sanitation – Every venue will be sanitized daily, especially high-touch areas

Cody Cowan, the Red River Cultural District’s Executive Director, says the mask mandates in Austin, Texas are intended to protect everyone.

“This program as a whole ultimately signifies a major shift within the local music and arts community where we as local business leaders are coming together as a unified front to stand up for what we believe in,” Cowan says.

“On a more personal level, after hearing from countless workers about the new level of fear that this new mandate has instilled upon those who work and perform within the district, I refuse to stand by and not stand up for what I, and many others like me, believe to be right,” Cowan continued.

“We hope that these collective actions send a strong message to the public that although we want to reopen, we will only do so in a manner that provides a safe environment for all,” the statement finishes.

But Austin venue’s attempts to keep patrons safe with mask mandates are seeing pushback from the state.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote this in a tweet, “City/county leaders must not be thinking clearly – Travis County and Austin have a few hours to comply with state law or I’ll sue them.”

Austin city officials like Mayor Steve Adler said they will continue to enforce safety mandates. “We will fight Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Paxton’s assault against doctors and data for as long as we possibly can,” Adler told an Austin newspaper earlier this week. Public officials there have made it clear they disagree with the Texas governor’s decision to lift the mask mandate. Austin’s restrictions will stay in place until April 15.

Yoel Molina Law

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