The Texas Supreme Court has blocked Austin and Travis County’s orders restricting restaurants operations to takeout only between certain hours overnight.
The decision came the evening of Jan. 1, after the rules went into effect on New Year’s Eve, hours after a district court judge sided with Austin and Travis County in allowing the restrictions to happen.
The Supreme Court sided with the Texas Attorney General’s request to halt enforcement of the rule while the case is going through the appeals process.
On Tuesday, Austin and Travis County announced that restaurants could only offer takeout options for food between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3. It said this narrow and temporary order was targeted at places and times where people might gather without taking precautions to celebrate the new year.
The announcement received swift pushback from Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who argued that the order was more restrictive than Abbott’s emergency order and therefore not allowed.
The matter went before a Travis County district court judge on Thursday afternoon, who sided with Austin and Travis County and allowed the restrictions to remain in place. Paxton then filed an appeal, which was rejected by the Third Court of Appeals. That’s when Paxton turned to the Supreme Court and asked for what’s called a petition for writ of mandamus that would halt enforcement of the order while the court made its decision on its legality. The Supreme Court’s Friday order granted that request without hearing any oral arguments.
The Texas Restaurant Association said they agree many types of safety guidelines should be enforced, but they stood by businesses who chose to keep their doors open in spite of the local curfew order.
Travis County Judge Andy Brown said he was disappointed by the decision.