Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he will reopen the state “at 100 percent” and will rescind the statewide mask mandate beginning next Wednesday.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Abbott said. “Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100 percent.”
“Every business that wants to be open should be open,” he said.
However, he warned that removing the mandates “does not end personal responsibility.”
“Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain COVID. It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed,” he said.
He said the state’s vaccination efforts, as well as decreasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations will allow for the state to safely reopen. The state has the lowest positivity rate it has seen in months.
Health experts expect 7 million shots to have been distributed in the state by next Wednesday, the governor said, adding that “within a few months” anyone who wants a vaccine will likely be able to receive one.
The governor did, however, put safeguards in place should cases spike after reopening.
“If Covid hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas rise above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, then a county judge in that region may use Covid mitigation strategies in their county,” Abbott said
Texas will become the thirteenth state to not enforce a mask mandate.