NEWS & ANALYSIS

BACK TO NORMAL? Texas Lifts Statewide Mask Mandate, Other COVID Restrictions


Over the last year, face masks have become a routine part of our daily life. Indeed, in most major cities across the country, they’re even required while walking from point A to point B. 

But, Texas is ready for life to go back to normal. 

The Lone Star state is lifting most of its remaining coronavirus restrictions, includings its statewide mask mandate and capacity restrictions on businesses, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday. 

In a speech, Abbott said he expects citizens will continue exercising personal responsibility regarding safety protocols without the need for a government mandate. 

Perhaps other states should follow suit. 

“Texans have mastered the daily habits to avoid getting COVID,” he said. 

He added that starting March 10, every business will be allowed to open at 100 percent capacity, a win for the economy and especially for small businesses. 

“Make no mistake, COVID has not suddenly disappeared. COVID still exists in Texas, in the United States and across the globe,” he said. “But it is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed.” 

The governor cited successful vaccination rates and low case numbers across the state, saying Texas is “in a far better position now.” 

Out of the nearly 30 million people currently residing in Texas, about 5.7 million shots have been administered, many of them to seniors, and by the end of the month, “every senior who wants a vaccine shot can get a vaccine shot,” he added. 

However, if virus hospitalizations in any region rise above 15 percent capacity for seven days straight, Abbott urged that county judges may opt to impose certain mitigation strategies. 

These strategies do not include penalties for not wearing a mask, and businesses cannot be limited to less than 50 percent capacity, according to The Hill. 

This call makes Texas the largest state to completely lift its mask mandate. Public health experts and federal officials have urged states not to ease up too quickly, but with declining case numbers, it only makes sense.