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The Texas Supreme Court blocked local orders establishing an overnight curfew for restaurants to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, according to reports.
The court issued the order Friday, conditionally granting state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s petition to block enforcement of orders in Austin and surrounding Travis County.
The area currenty has more than 4,500 active cases of COVID-19, and the disease has killed more than 500 people there.
Nationwide, the U.S. leads all nations in both coronavirus infections and deaths, accounting for nearly 25 percent of cases around the globe and more than 348,000 fatalities.
A Texas appeals court temporarily granted a request filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and restaurant owners to halt coronavirus lockdown orders issued in El Paso County. (Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)
Response to the outbreak has become a topic of partisan contention, with many Democratic state leaders opting for lockdowns, while the Trump administration and Republican governors have emphasized individual freedoms and sought to maintain public safety while keeping the economy operating.
In Texas, Paxton, a Republican, applauded the court's ruling. "The city and county orders clearly violate the governor’s Executive Order No. 32," he said, according to KVUE. "Local authorities have no authority to override it."
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Paxton stressed that "local declarations" cannot stand in conflict with the governor’s "clear order."
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted a message on New Year's Eve reiterating his stance.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler was disappointed by the decision.
"The Supreme Court didn’t tell us what it thought, but stopped enforcement until the Court of Appeals can look at it further," the Democrat said, according to FOX 7 Austin. "That’ll take time."
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"In the meantime, I continue to believe each of us has the power to protect our neighbors and save lives right now," Adler added. "Austin is experiencing uncontrolled spread of the virus."
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