Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday an end to the statewide mask mandate, and 100% opening of all businesses, effective Wednesday, March 10.
“It is now time to open Texas 100%,” Abbott said. “Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open should be open.”
Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday, March 2, that will rescind many of his previous orders.
The governor’s announcement comes as the Texas Department of Health Services weekly reporting, stalled by last month’s winter storm, reflect a decrease in hospitalizations and increase in vaccinations.
Abbott said the state is better positioned now than when he issued last year’s executive orders. He said the current abundance of personal protective equipment, testing, treatments, and vaccines.
“Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed.”
He said hospitalizations are the lowest they have been in four months and active cases are at their lowest since November, less than half what they were last month.
The governor said Texans should continue to follow medical advice to prevent spreading the virus.
“For a year now, Texans have wrestled with COVID, and they have learned best how to conduct their own lives.”
If businesses want to limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols, they have the right to do so, however, Abbott said people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.
Addressing concerns that lifting these mandates could lead to a spike in cases, he said county judges in hospital regions with more than 15% capacity for seven straight days may implement mitigation strategies in their county.
Abbott said under no circumstance can a county judge jail anyone for not following COVID orders, and no penalties will be imposed for not wearing a mask.
If restrictions are set at the county level, they may not include reducing capacity to less than 50% for any type of entity.
“Texas is doing more than ever to save lives and to reduce the spread of COVID,” he said. “We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy in the lives of Texans.”
Abbott also announced more than 5.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given statewide. So far, more than 3.5 million people have received at least one dose and 1.8 million are fully vaccinated.
He said the state is currently giving about a million doses a week, and by next Wednesday, nearly 7 million shots will have been given and more than half of Texas’ seniors will have received a vaccine.
According to Abbott, by the end of the month, every senior who wants the vaccine will be able to get it and the number of vaccines will continue to increase as additional supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and the newly approved, one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine that arrived in Texas Tuesday, March 2.
“The vaccine supply is expanding so rapidly, Texas will soon expand the categories of people who are able to get them,” he said.
Abbott said the state will continue to grieve for those who have suffered, and mourn the loss of life, however, Texans have more tools and knowledge to combat and overcome the virus than ever before.
“It’s a reminder that each person has their own role to play in their own personal safety, as well as in the safety of other.”