Texas has become the largest U.S. state to lift the COVID-19 mask mandate and reopen businesses. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said on Tuesday that “it’s time to reopen Texas 100 percent.”
“Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open, should be open,” Abbott said in a statement.
Abbott announced an executive order, effective next Tuesday, allowing any business to open at 100 per cent capacity if they choose to. The order is an effective repeal of state-wide mandates that required stores to either close or operate at minimum capacity. Abbott said that state-wide mandates were “no longer necessary.” In addition, he will be lifting the state mask mandate 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.”
Abbott made his comments to small business and community leaders of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce at Montelongo’s Mexican restaurant. He pointed out that declining case numbers and increased vaccinations are a step to “getting back to normalcy.” At his press conference, the governor provided extensive details on the state’s vaccination efforts, stating that over 5.7 million vaccine doses have been administered. The state set the record on Tuesday for giving over 216,000 shots in a single day.
Despite the popularity of his move, Democrats have condemned the governor, calling the move “extraordinarily dangerous.”
“What Abbott is doing is extraordinarily dangerous,” they said. “He is the worst Governor in modern Texas history. This will kill Texans. Our country’s infectious disease specialists have warned that we should not put our guard down even as we make progress towards vaccinations. Abbott doesn’t care.”
The Texas Democratic Party called the governor's move “abdication” of his responsibilities, leaving Texans to fend for themselves.
Despite the cries and condemnations, the move has received widespread support on social media where many are praising Governor Abbott for his courage to reopen the businesses and get Texas back on track.
“I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%. EVERYTHING. I also ended the statewide mask mandate.” Abbott said on Twitter.