‘It’s time to reopen’: Texas governor lifts statewide mask mandate

Coronavirus Updates

Texas Governor Greg Abbott prepares to deliver his State of the State speech at Visionary Fiber Technologies outside Lockhart, TX. Abbott is proposing expansion of telemedicine and increased broadband access for rural Texans among other policies. (Bob Daemmrich for Nexstar)

TEXAS (ABC4) – After nearly a year, Texas is ending its state wide mask mandate.

“It’s time to reopen Texas 100%,”  Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. “So that any business that wants to open can open.”

ABC4 affiliate KXAN says Gov. Abbott has also announced the reopening of Texas businesses after various shutdowns and restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new executive order will take place next Wednesday that permits any business to open – with 100% capacity – if they choose to. The governor says statewide mandates are “no longer necessary,” adding that the mask mandate will end on March 10.

“Today’s announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year,” Abbott said. “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.”

Last week in Corpus Christi, KXAN reports Abbott said statewide orders, including the mask mandate in place since July, could be removed “very soon.”

Ahead of the announcement, KXAN reports that Austin Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott opined that it was much too early for such sweeping moves, saying the mask mandate should remain in place until at least the end of April.

According to the Texas DSHS COVID-19 Dashboard, there have been nearly 2.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 42,995 deaths. There are currently 156,989 active cases.

Texas is the biggest state to lift its mask mandate – the Associated Press reports that North Dakota, Montana and Iowa have also lifted mask orders in recent weeks.

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