Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said it was time to fully reopen Texas amid the coronavirus pandemic during a press conference Tuesday in Lubbock.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Abbott said during the press conference, as noted by The Dallas Morning News. “Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%.” (RELATED: ‘That’s Not Enough’: Texas Bar Owners Protest Gov. Greg Abbott’s Coronavirus Lockdown Order)
BREAKING: Texas is lifting its mask mandate, making it the largest state to end an order intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Greg Abbott has faced sharp criticism from his party over the mandate, imposed eight months ago. https://t.co/WHPLWzf9jF
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 2, 2021
Abbott also told reporters he was ending the statewide mask mandate.
“I am ending the statewide mask mandate,” Abbott said. “Texans have mastered the habits to keep from getting COVID,” he added.
Businesses will still be allowed to implement any restrictions needed, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Abbott first imposed his mask mandate in July, months after major cities in Texas had already implemented mask mandates. Abbott was criticized for the decision, while implementation of the mandate was made harder by law enforcement who wouldn’t enforce it.
Some Texas leaders have pushed back on the repeal of the mask mandate.
“Texas will experience more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths,” state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, a Democrat from the border city of Laredo, told Abbott, according to the Associated Press.