Socially responsible? Yes. Weird? Oh, of course, and thank goodness.

South Lamar Boulevard taco joint Maria’s Taco Xpress is perhaps just as known for its landmark giant statue of owner Maria Corbalan as it is for its tortilla-wrapped treats.

In a sign of the times, the statue — its arms outstretched as ever — has donned a face mask. Corbalan told the American-Statesman last week that she put the mask up when the pandemic started; the restaurant first posted a picture of the coronavirus safety guideline-following statue on May 20.

"I just wanted to send a message that we need to be together," she said about the creative idea, adding that we "need to get out of this mess."

And no, the giant mask is not available in stores. Corbalan said, "I design clothes, so I had a lot of fabric."

Maria’s Taco Xpress currently is open for patio dining (patrons are asked to mask up) and curbside takeout.

"I really want everyone to get on the same page or the pandemic will never end," Corbalan said. "I thought it was a good message to the community."

Meanwhile, on the newsier side of things, anyone in public not wearing a mask can now be fined up to $2,000, according to a resolution passed by Austin City Council on Thursday. Cases of COVID-19 and related deaths and hospitalizations have surged since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began his state reopening plan in May.


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