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'It is now time to open Texas 100 percent' Abbott ending statewide mask mandate, removing occupancy limits

Effective March 10
Posted at 1:55 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 23:02:21-05

Governor Abbott ended the statewide mask mandate and rescinded orders limiting business occupancy levels that were issued during the pandemic, effective March 10.

Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference to address small business and community leaders in Lubbock on Tuesday.

Abbott said most businesses have been open with limits during the pandemic and "too many Texans have been sidelines from employment opportunities, too many have struggled to pay bills."

"It is now time to open Texas 100 percent," Abbott said.

Abbott said Texas is "in a different place" then when he issued orders last year, with PPE, COVID tests and therapeutic drugs to treat COVID.

He said most Texans know how to avoid getting COVID now in comparison to last year, and we now have vaccines.

Nearly 5.7 million vaccine shots have been administered to Texans, and the state is now administering almost one million shots each week, according to Abbott.

He said over half of our seniors will have received vaccine shots by next week.

"Importantly, the number of vaccines will continue to increase rapidly," Abbott said. Texas will soon expand the categories of who can get the vaccine, according to the governor.

Abbott said the number of active COVID-19 cases is the lowest since November. According to Abbott, the state is under a 9% positivity rate.

"State mandates are no longer needed," Abbott said.

Today, Abbott is issuing a new order effective next Wednesday rescinding most of his previous orders related to COVID-19.

Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type may open to 100% capacity.

Additionally, this order ends the statewide mask mandate in Texas.

Businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols at their own discretion.

View Executive Order (GA-34) below:

"With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” said Governor Abbott.

"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. 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."

If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies. However, County Judges may not impose jail time for not following COVID-19 orders nor may any penalties be imposed for failing to wear a face mask.

If restrictions are imposed at a County level, those restrictions may not include reducing capacity to less than 50% for any type of entity.

In October, Governor Abbott issued an order adjusting the occupancy levels for businesses to no more than 75% of the total listed occupancy of the establishment. In areas with high hospitalizations, any business establishment that otherwise would have a 75% occupancy or operating limit could only operate at up to only 50%.

Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order 29 in July of 2020 requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces, with few exceptions, in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases.