Austin city council member sounds alarm as city extends COVID mandates with no public input

By Andrew Miller 

The Austin City Council has pushed through an extension of an ordinance that allows the city to enforce coronavirus restrictions

The ordinance, which was set to expire on December 31, was extended by the city council for another year with only one vote in opposition which was cast by Republican Council Member Mackenzie Kelly. She explained during the meeting that the coronavirus data doesn’t support the extension.

“The information that we see on the Austin-Travis County COVID-19 dashboard, in my view, does not support extending an ordinance that includes penalties for an additional year,” Kelly said.

Kelly explained that Austin, a city of almost one million people, currently has 121 coronavirus inpatients, 43 ICU patients, and 19 patients on ventilators. 

Additionally, Kelly expressed frustration with the council’s choice to extend the ordinance without hearing from the public. 

“Further, it alarms me that we did not give our community members a chance to voice their concerns on how the ordinance will significantly impact their lives for nearly another year,” Kelly said. The city council passed the ordinance during a special meeting. The ordinance in question was only posted to the city’s website in draft form on Friday, leaving little time for residents to view or analyze it. The final version was posted Tuesday afternoon, after the meeting and vote had already taken place.

“An ordinance with a fiscal penalty for non-compliance that is presented for adoption with less than a week of input and significantly impacts the lives of Austinites requires a more robust conversation with the community,” Kelly told Fox News Digital.

Those found violating the restrictions can face fines up to $2,000 per instance. 

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The city council defunded its police in August 2020 during a wave of cities across the nation slashing funding to their police departments, and hundreds of officers have since left the police department. Austin’s cut was the largest by percentage of its previous budget, and also halted police cadet classes while introducing new training that some criticize as based on Critical Race Theory. 

The city says police, the Austin Fire Marshal, and the Austin Code Department will enforce the COVID rules, which call for masks even among the vaccinated in many circumstances, and have been extended to December 31, 2022. 

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