During a press conference on Tuesday, March 2, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order (GA-34) allowing for 100% capacity in all businesses and an end to the state-wide mask mandate effective next Wednesday, March 10.
“With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Abbott said. “We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent.”
Abbott’s executive order says that if hospital rates increase to 15% capacity within a seven-day period County Judges can invoke mandates. However, County Judges may not impose jail time for not following COVID-19 orders or enforce penalties 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 business.
The Governor noted that Texas has a surplus of personal protective equipment and can perform over 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day. More than 5.7 million vaccine shots have been distributed to Texas, and today the state set a one-day record by administering more than 216,000 vaccines. This rate of distribution will allow about one million vaccines to be given a week.
Abbott remarked during the press conference that COVID has not disappeared, but Texans have adopted daily habits and safe practices that reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and infection.
“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 diligence to follow the same standard is still needed to contain COVID.”
According to Abbott, more than 2.5 million Texans who were lab-confirmed for COVID-19 have recovered since the beginning of the pandemic, and experts note the total number of Texans who have recovered from COVID-19 is likely 4-5 times that amount. The number of active COVID-19 cases is the lowest since November, meaning more Texans are recovering from the disease than contracting it.
“With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny,” Abbott said.