Texas Ends Statewide Mask Mandate, Opens State 100%
LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded the state’s face mask mandate Tuesday afternoon, declaring that it’s time for Texans to get back to business.
“Under no circumstance can someone be punished for not wearing a mask,” Abbott said as he was surrounded by local small business owners and members of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce at Montelongo’s Mexican Restaurant.
The governor made the announcement on the same day the state reported a new one day record for the number of people receiving coronavirus vaccines: More than 216,000.
“To be clear, Covid has not, like, suddenly disappeared,” Abbott said. “Covid still exists in Texas and the United States and across the globe.”
But, he added, “within a few months, experts say every Texan who wants a vaccine, will be able to get a shot.”
He went on to say that thanks to the combination of an available vaccine, medicines to treat those who get the virus, and widespread availability of personal protective equipment, there’s just no need hold back the state’s economy anymore.
He said Texans could decide for themselves what precautionary measures they want to take to limit the spread of the virus and that top elected officials in each county could reimpose restrictions if hospital capacities passed 15 percent.
“At this time, however, people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate,” he said, adding “today’s announcement ensures Texans can tap into their own self-reliance to seize the opportunities our state has to offer.”
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican from Beaumont agreed, saying in a statement that “the unparalleled efforts of government and the pharmaceutical industry to defeat the novel coronavirus prove what we’ve always known: vaccines work.
“With greater access to vaccinations, better treatment options, and decreasing hospitalization rates, the Texas approach empowers citizens to exercise personal responsibility about their health in the fight against COVID-19,” Phelan said.
“Today’s action marks an important step in the reopening of Texas, improving the mental health of our students, increasing the reporting of domestic violence and child abuse, and revitalizing our business climate.
“I also appreciate that there are safeguards in place to prevent spread from increasing as the state reopens. The past year has been difficult for all Texas families, and there is now hope that we will defeat and eradicate COVID-19,” he said.
Also pleased with the governor was the Texas Business Association.
“Throughout the pandemic, Governor Abbott has implemented measures that protect our communities, while ensuring Texans still have the ability to earn a paycheck and put food on their tables,” Association President Glenn Hamer said.
“Once again, the governor is striking the right balance by removing the heavy hand of government and allowing businesses to operate as they see fit. One year into dealing with COVID-19, organizations understand what protocols they must implement to function safely, and TAB knows Texas companies will operate responsibly,” Hamer said.
In related news, Mississippi also lifted its mask mandate and other coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday.
In an announcement that roughly coincided with Gov. Abbott’s in Texas, Gov. Tate Reeves said effective Wednesday, the state’s current public health executive orders will be replaced by recommendations.
“Today, I signed what I expect will be one of my last executive orders regarding COVID-19. Our hospitalizations have plummeted, and our case numbers have fallen dramatically as well. In fact, our case numbers have fallen to the point where no county meets the original criteria for a mask mandate,” Reeves said during a press conference.
Reeves said businesses will be allowed to make their own policies, but “the governor’s office is getting out of the business of telling people what they can and can’t do.”
The only places where restrictions, including mask mandates, will remain in effect will be in K-12 schools, Reeves said.
Reeves also said indoor arenas will have a capacity limit of 50 percent.
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