Austin airport, Capital Metro determining implications of federal ruling overturning mask mandate for public transportation
The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Capital Metro are both assessing how an April 18 decision by a federal judge to strike down the mask mandate for public transportation will affect their operations.communityimpact.com
‘Relaxing’ policy: Mask-wearing at HISD schools, facilities ‘optional’ effective Tuesday, district says
The Houston Independent School District has relaxed its mask mandates, making it optional to wear masks within HISD schools, facilities, and school buses, officials announced Monday. Anyone wanting to wear a mask can still request one when entering an HISD building.
Weather ‘roller coaster’ brings ice jam on Kankakee River and potential weekend snow drifting to the Chicago area
The snow from Thursday’s storm totaled 2.9 inches at O’Hare, 3.8 inches at Midway and 4.1 inches in the southwest suburbs. Most places in the Chicago area saw 2 to 5 inches of snow, and areas south of Interstate 80 experienced up to 9 inches.chicagotribune.com
U.S. Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia backs state Rep. Delia Ramirez’s bid for Congress; Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso gets high-profile backing in GOP race for 6th district seat
As expected, U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has endorsed state Rep. Delia Ramirez in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District.chicagotribune.com
UIC can play in Horizon League championships now after the conference restores the Flames’ eligibility
The University of Illinois at Chicago will get to compete in winter and spring conference championships after the Horizon League’s Board of Directors voted to restore the Flames’ eligibility on Tuesday.chicagotribune.com
HISD holds board meeting to discuss mask mandates as area COVID-19 cases decline
The board of Houston Independent School District will hold an in-person meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss its current guidance on mask mandates, large gatherings and social distancing that was put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How I got a school mask mandate in my rural West Virginia community
Knowing a mask mandate was the only feasible way to keep classes in-person and our son safe, I reached out to the one parent-acquaintance I had in our school district who understood the covid-19 pandemic like I did. The movement grew from there.washingtonpost.com
Texas Supreme Court pauses San Antonio mask mandate for public schools
The Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked San Antonio’s mask mandate for public schools Thursday — the latest in the tug-of-war legal battle between local governments and the state’s Republican leadership over mandatory face coverings.
Fort Bend County to reinstate mask order after judge grants temporary restraining order against Gov. Abbott’s mask mandate
Several Fort Bend County leaders are expected to announce the submission of a lawsuit that will challenge Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order GA-38, which bans local officials from mandating masks.
‘Protect the rights and freedoms of all Texans’: Gov. Abbott, AG Paxton to block Dallas County Judge’s mask mandate
Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Wednesday the filing of a mandamus petition the 5th Court of Appeals to strike down the actions by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, according to a release.
Texas State Teachers Association urging Gov. Abbott to allow school districts to mandate masks when students return
The Texas State Teachers Association has called on Gov. Greg Abbott to withdraw the prohibition of masks and to allow school districts to require masks when students return back to school.
Local businesses decide whether to require masks after statewide mandate lifted
Greg Abbott ordered the state’s mask mandate to be lifted on Wednesday and allowed any business to open at 100% capacity. “All the staff is required to wear masks and the customers are doing whatever they wish to do,” said Jim Hallers, managing partner of Citizens Grill near The Woodlands. At nearby Malibu Nails and Spa, front desk employee Maggie Becker said employees will wear masks and take other precautions. “We are not requiring guests to wear masks since the mandate has been lifted,” she said. “Of course, all of our team members are wearing masks as well but we’re still requiring customers to wear masks as they come in.”KPRC 2 asked whether that approach has caused any problems.
Judge Lina Hidalgo makes remarks after COVID-19 restrictions end in Texas
HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo addressed the expiration of the state COVID-19 restrictions Wednesday afternoon. “There’s a lot of focus today on 100% -- on businesses being able to reopen to 100% and everybody lifting the mask mandate in the state,” Hidalgo said. “I’d like to focus on another number today, and that is 9.8%.”The judge reported that 9.8% of people over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated in Harris County. The needless deaths and hospitalizations, that we can avoid if we just make it through this definition period,” Hidalgo said. She said the “most tragic number of all” is the 3,394 people who died in Harris County from COVID-19.
Local gym to offer dedicated section for mask wearers
HOUSTON – When Texas’ COVID-19 occupancy and mask restrictions are lifted Wednesday, a chain of gyms statewide will offer its members a choice: mask or no mask. 24 Hour Fitness said it designates a “club within a club” for customers who don’t feel comfortable exercising without a mask. The option will be made available at each of 24 Hour Fitness’ 18 Houston-area locations, 38 total statewide. The gym keeps its full COVID-19 protocol online. Click here to read the gym’s COVID-19 safety plan: https://www.24hourfitness.com/company/health_first/
Popular Texas bar will allow customers and employees to go completely maskless after March 10
Greg Abbott’s announcement that the statewide mask mandate will be lifted, businesses rushed to issue statements regarding their own policies. After March 10, one of San Antonio’s most popular bars Hills and Dales Ice House will no longer require its customers or employees to wear a mask, KPRC 2′s sister-station KSAT reports. According to the report, owner Justin Vitek was surprised by the reversal of the mask mandate but has decided to honor Abbott’s decision. AdAccording to KSAT, Vitek is leaving the decision to wear a mask up to the individual and will not turn away any maskless customers. “If the no mask requirement makes some customers uncomfortable, Vitek said they have the option to choose a different establishment,” KSAT reports.
Houston-area concert venues respond to plans to lift restrictions
HOUSTON – With the state of Texas’ occupancy and mask restrictions set to be rescinded next week, some Houston-area performance venues are revisiting their policies. “That was great news coming from the governor,” said Jerry MacDonald, the president and CEO of Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands. That means the pavilion’s primary revenue generator, big concerts and other large events, has been a bust. MacDonald said the Governor’s rollback of restrictions will help, but while the change takes effect next week don’t look for any big concerts at the big pavilion any time soon. He said that’s because it takes months to plan a concert and most states remain with restrictions.
Some businesses will continue to mandate masks
HOUSTON – Even when the mask mandate is lifted in Texas next week, customers will still need to wear a mask inside Phoenicia Specialty Foods in downtown Houston. He said the grocery store will keep the mask rule and limited capacity in place for now, even after next Wednesday. On social media, some businesses have posted that they plan to take the same route. “We want to remind you that private entities, private businesses, have a legal right to require you to wear a mask,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a video on Twitter. Attorney Katherine Treistman, a commercial litigator with Arnold & Porter, said private businesses are free to make their own policies.
Local doctor warns that virus will spike if masks not mandatory
Abbott’s decision to open up the state, making face masks no longer mandatory, is the wrong move at the wrong time, according to Dr. Varon. At his United Memorial Medical Center in north Houston, Dr. Varon worked battling COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Dr. Varon said everyone should keep wearing masks because they work. Now, Dr. Varon and his staff are preparing for another surge that he says will likely come as a result of the governor’s order. Dr Varon says in the short term, people should continue wearing masks and social distancing to stay safe.
‘So surprised and so disappointed’: How local places of worship will handle reopening
HOUSTON – Several Houston religious leaders and congregations shared how they will handle services after Gov. Inside Congregation Beth Israel of Houston, the temple and its seats remain empty more often than not. Kabire said there are no plans to change any safety guidelines at this point. Lakewood church said it will continue to follow recommended health and safety guidelines. Church officials said capacity has not been an issue however they will monitor it as they expect attendance to increase.
Ask 2: When does the mask mandate expire in Texas?
As part of our Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston. Question: When does the mask mandate expire in Texas? Greg Abbott’s statewide executive order does not have a definite end date. Additionally, under Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s recent order, Houstonians will continue to wear masks in public settings for 14 days after the expiration of Abbott’s COVID-19 disaster declaration. Send it our way, and we will try to hunt down an answer.