Harlingen, Texas (KVEO) — On Wednesday, March 10 Governor Greg Abbott’s orders to life the mask mandate will take effect, but cities in the Rio Grande Valley are voting to require them in city-owned spaces. 

The city of McAllen said they will still require masks in city-operated buildings and they can call law enforcement if someone refuses to wear one.  

“Individual businesses, government buildings, etcetera are still allowed to require masks,” said Dr. Andrew Smith, lecturer of political science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.  

McAllen city commissioners voted on March 8, to keep masks, because there are still hundreds of new COVID-19 cases daily across Hidalgo County and they want to keep the community safe.  

“We voted unanimously for everything to stay in place because we are not out the woods yet,” said Veronica Vela Whitacre, McAllen city commissioner for District 6 and mayor pro tem.  

Some examples of city-operated buildings are libraries, public transportation and city hall.  

“Some of the people are just asking for some type of normalcy, and we are not going to have some normalcy until our numbers go down,” said Whitacre.    

City manager of Harlingen, Dan Serna, announced this afternoon they will require the same.   

“Our employees and our visitors are very important to us and we want to make sure that we provide the most protection possible while in our facilities so we will continue this practice for their safety and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we continue to deal with the covid-19 pandemic,” said Serna. 

Businesses or city-owned facilities are able to call law enforcement for not wearing masks, “however, the grounds for doing so would have to be more along the lines of regular criminal offense i.e. Trespassing,” said Smith.   

McAllen’s city mayor says they’re more concerned about safety than arresting residents 

“You know our officers are pretty diplomatic we’re not trying to arrest anybody we just want to make sure everybody respects each other,” said Jim Darling.