Texas, Mississippi lifting most COVID-19 restrictions, mask mandates
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves both announced on Tuesday that they were lifting statewide mask mandates and opening their states back up for business.
Gov. Abbott announced Tuesday, March 2, in Lubbock, Texas, that it was time to “open Texas 100%.”
The Republican governor announced he is lifting the mask mandate beginning next Wednesday. Abbott says that declining infection rates and new vaccines mean the Lone Star State can fully reopen. He issued an executive order (GA-34) rescinding most of his other pandemic orders as well.
At around the same time, Gov. Reeves, also a Republican, followed suit, tweeting “Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!” The Mississippi restrictions will lift tomorrow and businesses will be allowed to operate at full capacity.
Similarly, Gov. Abbott’s executive order allows all businesses to operate at 100% capacity, and it also forbids any city or county form enforcing their own mask mandates.
Bars in Texas have already reopened on a county-by-county basis at 50% occupancy with all patrons seated and an 11 p.m. closing time. That is likely to end next week. Gov. Abbott lifted travel restrictions for visitors to Texas on May 20, 2020.
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Texas was the second state to surpass 2 million coronavirus cases back in February. Mississippi has a total of 295,295 cases, according to a New York Times database.
Abbott did say:
“Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility or the importance of caring for your family members and caring for your friends and caring for others in your community,” Abbott said. “Personal vigilance to follow the safety standards is still needed to contain COVID, it’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed. Texans should continue following medical advice on preventing COVID.”
Democrats in Texas are outraged. Texas Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in statement, “From leaving Texans to literally freeze to death, to letting a deadly virus have an open season on our residents, Governor Abbott has proven many times over that he neither understands the struggles of everyday Texans, nor does he care about doing his basic duty to protect them.”
Gov. Abbott issued a mask mandate on July 2, 2020, after cases began to rise in the state, however, mask usage is more common in some parts of Texas than in others. The New York Times reports Texas has an “average of 227 COVID-19 deaths a day over the past week.”
Additional reporting by Mimi Wright.
Featured image by CrackerClips Stock Media via Shutterstock.
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