One Austin suburb is no longer forcing citizens to wear face coverings in public.
Late last week, the Round Rock City Council voted unanimously to end their mask mandate, effective April 22.
The council’s original mandate, decreed in June of last year, forced every citizen over the age of 10 to wear a face covering “in public places when adequate social distancing is not possible” and required all businesses to post signs of the law. Those who disobeyed could be hit with expensive fines.
“A first time violation of the ordinance will result in a verbal or written warning. Ensuing violations are punishable by fines starting at $200 and escalating up to $1,000,” the city wrote.
Over the past several months, the council extended the mandate four times—most recently in late February, when they dragged out the finish line again to the end of April.
However, in early March, Gov. Greg Abbott removed his statewide mask mandate, and in the weeks since, Texas’ coronavirus cases have plummeted. Hospitalizations, deaths, and cases have all fallen off, with hospitalizations dropping to 10-month lows and cases dropping to record lows.
On Thursday, citizens told the Round Rock City Council the real-world evidence has revealed it’s high time for the government mask orders to stop.
“Many experts were worried that [removing the statewide mask mandate] would be disastrous, but after a month has passed, we see that isn’t the case,” said Shauna Kinningham.
“I think with the state having lifted their mandate a month ago, within the last week or two, we would’ve seen [a coronavirus spike] … but we didn’t see that,” said Dustin Clark.
Other citizens said community members and businesses should have the right to choose the best for their health.
“The current mask ordinance is actively stifling the rights of the business owners who do not support this mandate and feel as if their health and well-being is being negatively impacted by wearing a mask for an extended length of time at work,” said Kara Hazen. “My husband has personally had several instances of blurry vision and headaches after extended mask-wearing while working at HEB [grocery store].”
“The City of Round Rock should trust people to make decisions for themselves,” said Kristen Files.
“Even during a pandemic, our Constitution and laws do not go away,” added local resident Deanna Kruger.
The mandate will be lifted on April 22.