Abbott Ends Texas Masks Mandate, Says Companies Can Totally Reopen
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday that he would end his statewide mask mandate effective March 10 and that all companies in the state would then be able to operate without capacity constraints.
“I just announced that Texas is 100% open,” he tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “EVERYTHING.”
Governor Abbott took action after federal health officials warned governors not to relax restrictions yet as progress in reducing coronavirus cases across the country appears to have stalled last week.
“To be clear, Covid didn’t suddenly go away,” Abbott said. “Covid still exists in Texas, the US, and around the world.”
Even so, he said, “government mandates are no longer required” as advanced treatments are now available for people with Covid-19, the state is able to test large numbers of people for the virus on a daily basis, and 5.7 Millions of vaccine shots have already been given to Texans.
At a Chamber of Commerce event in Lubbock Tuesday afternoon, Republican Abbott spoke to reporters about the removal of most mandates granted during the peak of the state’s pandemic. he did not indicate which mandates would remain. He said high-level elected officials in each county could still impose certain on-site restrictions if hospitals in their area became dangerously full but could not lock anyone up for violating them.
“People and companies don’t need the state to tell them how to work,” he said.
The democratic heads of state reacted quickly and harshly to the announcement. “What Abbott is doing is extremely dangerous,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the state party, in a statement, adding, “This will kill Texans. Infectious disease specialists in our country have warned that we should not be on guard Even as we make progress toward vaccinations. Abbott doesn’t care. “
In states like Florida and South Dakota, schools and businesses have been wide open for months, and many local and state officials across the country have eased restrictions since last summer. Nonetheless, the pace of reopening has accelerated significantly over the past few days.
In Chicago, tens of thousands of children returned to public schools this week as snow-covered parks and playgrounds opened in the city, which have been closed since last March. Massachusetts restaurants were allowed to operate without capacity restrictions, and South Carolina lifted its limits for large gatherings.
Biden’s administration has warned states not to relax restrictions too soon, despite the recent drop in cases. “We will completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, at a virus briefing at the White House on Monday.
According to a New York Times database, the nation as a whole has averaged over 67,000 new cases a day recently, more than ever during the spring and summer waves of cases.
March 2, 2021, 6:08 p.m. ET
Texas was among the first states to relax restrictions after the first wave. A step that epidemiologists considered premature and that led to a summer rise over the sun belt.
Although conditions across the state and nation have improved over a large spike during the vacation, the coronavirus is still spreading rapidly in Texas. The state has recently reported an average of 7,600 new cases per day. This is due to a drop in February when a severe storm disrupted testing. Texas is recently in the top 10 states with an average of 27 cases per 100,000 people.
And Texans are still dying in significant numbers from Covid 19: the state reported an average of 227 Covid 19 deaths per day over the past week, more than any other state except California.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County’s chief elected officer Linda Hidalgo, both Democrats, wrote to Mr Abbott on Tuesday prior to his announcement, urging the governor not to end the masking mandate, calling such a move “premature and harmful . ”
“We must continue the tried and tested public health interventions that are most responsible for our positive case trends and not allow over-reliance to jeopardize our own successes,” they wrote.
Mr. Abbott made his reopening announcement at a Mexican restaurant to mark the anniversary of Texas’ Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836.
Other places easing restrictions on Tuesday:
Governor John Bel Edwards of LouisianaOne Democrat said bars in his state could reopen and live music could resume indoors, although the state’s masking mandate would continue.
Mayor of London breed of San FranciscoAnother Democrat said indoor restaurants, museums and cinemas were allowed to reopen with limited capacity on Wednesday after cases and hospital stays data pushed the city down on the state reopening guidelines.
Governor Tate Reeves of MississippiThe Republican signed an executive order on Tuesday that lifted the state’s mask mandate. However, he continued to recommend that people wear them and practice social distancing. K-12 schools in the state will continue to require masks “that do not allow social distancing.”