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New Austin COVID-19 orders go into effect this week

The new order says businesses can choose to require masks and proof of vaccination, but this goes against Gov. Abbott's executive order.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, Austin-Travis County leaders announced new COVID-19 orders that will go into effect Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. 

However, do the new coronavirus orders clash with State law?

The order says businesses in Austin-Travis County will now be required to post signage that informs employees and customers of health and safety recommendations related to the local COVID-19 risk-based stages. It also says businesses can choose for themselves whether they want to require mask-wearing in their stores, a negative COVID test to enter or proof of vaccination. 

The manager at Nau's Enfield Drug, Laura Labay, wasted no time in putting her signs up. 

"I have the comfort level saying that, 'Please wear a mask if you'd like to come in here,'" said Labay. 

While many are taking advantage of this order and putting up their coronavirus safety requirements, they could be entering the shaky ground. 

In July, Gov. Abbott issued an executive order banning mask and vaccine mandates. 

South Texas College of Law Houston Professor Bosh Blackman said this could trigger a clash between local leaders and the governor, even though Austin-Travis County is not the one mandating the COVID-19 protocols. 

"They can't mandate that businesses ask for vaccination status, so they're simply requiring the businesses to post what their policy is, whether they check for vaccine status or not," said Blackman. 

And if a business decides to require masking or vaccination proof, Blackman said he thinks they're violating State law under the governor's order.

"This is sort of a cat-and-mouse game between the governor and the City of Austin," said Blackman. 

KVUE asked Blackman what businesses should do. 

"I think business owners would also have a difficult choice," Blackman added. "They can risk getting fined, or they can risk violating State law. Perhaps the easiest way around this is to simply post the sign on the window and say we do not check vaccination status."


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