Governor Abbott Announces End of Statewide Mask Mandate, Business Occupancy Limits
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced at a press conference today that the statewide mask mandate will end next week, and all businesses will be allowed to operate at 100% occupancy.
Speaking at Montelongo's Mexican Restaurant in Lubbock, Gov. Abbott said he will rescind many of his executive orders pertaining to COVID-19 restrictions effective next Wednesday, March 10.
Abbott said Texans have "mastered the daily habits" needed to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection, and that vaccine distribution has increased in recent weeks. According to Abbott, 5.7 million vaccines have already been administered in Texas, and that Texas set a one-day record Tuesday by administering more than 216,000 shots.
"Supply is increasing so rapidly, Texas will soon expand the categories of people who were able to get them, and some medical professionals say that within a few months every Texan who wants a vaccine shot will be able to get a vaccine shot," Abbott said.
Abbott added that Texas could soon expand vaccine eligibility.
According to the governor, removing the statewide mask mandate does not mean an end to personal responsibility and vigilance, and he urged Texans to continue to follow medical advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves and loved ones. However, he said the time has passed for state-issued mandates and restrictions.
"With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Abott said. "We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent."
"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," Abbott continued. "Today's announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny."
However, Abbott said, county officials can implement COVID-19 mitigation strategies if their region experiences a COVID-19 hospitalization rate of over 15% of hospital bed capacity for seven straight days. However, local authorities will not be able to penalize people for not wearing a mask, and businesses cannot be ordered to restrict occupancy to below 50%.
Abbott said businesses may still put their own COVID-19 mitigation restrictions in place if they choose to, but will no longer be restricted by any state orders as of March 10.
LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions
While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.