Gov. Greg Abbott announced during a press conference on March 2 he will remove all state mask mandates and Texas businesses will open “100 percent” effective March 10.
In counties where hospitalizations exceed 15 percent for over a week, county judges can make the decision to scale back businesses to no less than 50 percent capacity.
County judges may not impose jail time for failure to follow COVID-19 guidelines and penalties cannot be imposed for failure to wear face masks.
Abbott said Texas is more prepared now than in the past to remove mandates, citing over 5.7 million vaccine shots that have been administered and that the number will increase to 7 million in the next week. There are approximately 29 million Texans according to 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Abbott said the state will “soon expand the categories” the vaccine is available to. He did not give a specific date for this expansion. Abbott said “some medical professionals” expect that in “a few months” any Texan who wants a vaccine will have access to it.
Hospitalizations are the lowest they have been in four months, Abbott said. He said the number of cases is the lowest it has been since November and far more Texans are recovering from the virus than getting it.
Abbott said while he is removing the mask mandate and opening businesses, this does not remove individual responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Make no mistake,” Abbott said. “COVID-19 has not disappeared. But it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations and safe practices Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed.”
President Neal Smatresk gave the North Texas Daily a statement regarding how Abbott’s announcement will impact the university’s COVID-19 policies.
“UNT will ask and encourage students to continue to wear masks, so that we can hold our face-to-face classes safely,” Smatresk said.
This story is still developing and will be updated as more information is available.
Courtesy KXAS Dallas