Travis County Judge Sides With Austin Over New Year’s Restrictions on Restaurants and Bars – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
A Travis County district judge sided with Austin officials after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office tried to lift a New Year’s Eve dinner ban.
Austin officials warned of a critical situation of increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases, and moved on Wednesday to contain social gatherings and parties over the New Year.
According to the order, all venues where food and drinks are served are not completely closed, but are limited to drive-through, curb, delivery or take-out from Thursday to Sunday morning every evening from 10:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. -Service.
The order was also reprimanded by Governor and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sued the city and Travis County for overturning it.
In a letter to city and county officials, Paxton said the order inappropriately restricted business hours in violation of an earlier order from the governor. The Texas Restaurant Association also called it unfair business restrictions.
On Thursday, a Travis County district judge sided with Austin officials.
At a hearing just hours before people would normally head out for a long night of celebration, Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled the Austin area could enforce the ban.
At the livestream trial, the state argued that Austin’s local orders were not allowed under previous statewide orders from Texas Governor Greg Abbott. However, Texas had no objection to similar orders previously issued by other cities, notably El Paso and San Antonio, on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said health officials want the public to avoid large social gatherings to contain the spread of the coronavirus as local and state officials grapple with record numbers of hospitalizations and new cases, even as vaccines are introduced .
“We are now facing our most dangerous prospects,” said Adler on Wednesday.
Adler said the city’s lawyers had been consulted on the Austin order. Travis County Judge Andy Brown called it “the closest we can think of”.
Texas hit record highs of more than 11,700 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and more than 26,900 newly confirmed cases on Tuesday. The state has reported more than 26,000 deaths.
Abbott and state health officials have urged vaccine providers to speed up the distribution of shots. As of Tuesday, state health officials reported that more than 600,000 doses had been received but only about 163,000 had been issued.