- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Masks will still be required at Fort Worth municipal buildings, including City Hall and libraries.
The city will also continue keep occupancy levels limited and require those entering buildings to take a temperature check. Masks will be provided to those who don’t have one, the a city spokeswoman said in an email.
The requirements will remain in place despite Gov. Greg Abbott lifting COVID-19 safety precautions in Texas. Abbott lifted the mask mandate and will allow all businesses to open at full capacity effective March 10. Local officials had planned to continue requiring masks through at least mid-May.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley immediately lifted a countywide mask mandate that had been extended through May following Abbott’s announcement on Tuesday. Commissioners will vote next week on requiring masks at county buildings.
Unlike their counter parts at the county, city council members do not need to vote on the requirements for municipal buildings because such decisions are the responsibility of the city manager’s office. The city has not indicated when restrictions might be lifted.
The Fort Worth City Council was slated Tuesday to vote on extending the citywide mask policy through May 18, but the resolution was pulled from the agenda.
Mayor Betsy Price has been critical of Abbott’s decision, calling it “premature.” She urged state leaders to broaden the pool of residents who can receive vaccines.
“That state has removed true local control on this,” Price said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Council members differed on leaving the local mask policy in place.
Councilwomen Gyna Bivens, Kelly Allen Gray and Ann Zadeh said they were disappointed that the ordinance had to be withdrawn and encouraged people to continue wearing masks and staying home. Bivens called the removal of the local order “a hostage vote.”
Zadeh and Gray voted against removing the resolution.
“Just because someone tells you to jump off the cliff does not mean that you should jump,” Gray said, asking the city to continue to enforce masks in municipal offices.
Councilman Carlos Flores said he would have preferred Texas achieve heard immunity before it loosened restrictions, saying that spring break events would offer a chance to spread coronavirus.
Councilman Brian Byrd, who is running for mayor, made the motion to withdraw the mask mandate, saying the city should be “in lockstep with the county.”
Councilman Cary Moon said he wanted to keep the resolution to extend the mandate on the table so the council could vote outright against it. Moon, who attended a council meeting in June before being diagnosed with COVID-19, has been critical of mask mandates since early in the pandemic, arguing businesses should be able to decide who wears a mask.
Zadeh, who is also running for mayor, said she wanted Fort Worth to continue to require masks in city buildings and urged residents to “be kind” to businesses that chose to enforce mask policies.
“There are many businesses out there who would like to continue to protect their employees and their patrons by continuing to have mask requirements inside of their businesses and distance people inside of their businesses,” she said. “Whether you agree with them or not, I think that we need to continue to support our businesses in every way that we possibly can so that we don’t continue to lose businesses.”