DALLAS — With rising numbers, there's one question that comes to mind: Can counties issue their own lockdowns or orders that are more restrictive than the orders from Gov. Greg Abbott?
WFAA verified that local Texas county judges can't put orders in place that supersede the orders already set in place by the state.
Our sources for this story are Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt.
Judge Clay Jenkins said he wants stricter guidelines for Dallas County. However, he also said he has to first go through Gov. Abbott.
"The governor has attempted to repeal large sections of chapter 4.18, which is where I derive my emergency powers," Jenkins said. "I've asked that they consider allowing us to enforce his recommendations as requirements here in Dallas County."
Harris County is seeing a rising trend in the number of people admitted to hospitals with COVID-19. The county judge is considering a stay-in-place order. Houston's mayor said they may not be able to do that.
"We no longer have the ability to hit the brakes," Turner said during a press conference. "That's controlled now totally by the state. The state has preempted local governments from hitting the brakes."
Travis County is in a similar situation to Harris County. Trends are on the rise. Local leaders are updating city and county orders.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said businesses are "strongly encouraged as we can't mandate it" to reduce their indoor capacity to 25%.
Former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said the governor is not going to allow Travis County to slow things down.
"The governor of the state of Texas has taken away from us enforcement authority," Eckhardt said during a press conference.
Abbott himself has weighed in on this. He denied Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff's request to allow local jurisdictions to enforce mask requirements.
So WFAA can verify that counties cannot issue orders more restrictive than the governor's executive orders on COVID-19.
More from WFAA:
- Dallas County health department does not recommend going to bars, bowling alleys
- Ellis, Kaufman, Johnson, Rockwall counties set record-highs for new coronavirus cases
- Even as sales have started to rebound, Kate Weiser wonders what the ‘next week’ will bring
- Checklist: How Texas bars will operate when they can reopen May 22
- COVID-19 updates: Dallas County's trend of lower case numbers continues