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In a statewide press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott said that Texas would end the statewide mask mandate and "open Texas 100%."

Effective Wednesday, March 10, Abbott's newest executive order will rescind statewide COVID-19 restrictions, including limiting business capacity and requiring customers to wear masks in businesses. The order will also ensure that any business can now operate at full capacity.


"It is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations ... that state mandates are no longer needed," Abbott said at the press conference. "Every business that wants to be open, should be open."

Abbott cited lowering case rates, better protections against the virus and record-high vaccine shipments as motivations for lifting the mandate.

Although the state will not mandate masks or limit business capacity, if a county's COVID hospital capacity reaches above 15% for seven straight days, then county judges may use mitigation strategies. Abbott said that he does not believe this will occur and that no punishments can be enforced if residents choose not to follow the mandates.

"Under no circumstance can a county judge put anybody in jail for not following COVID orders, and no penalties can be imposed for failing to wear a face mask," Abbott said. "More importantly, we believe there will not be the threshold met for hospitalizations for county judges to even consider implementing those strategies because Texas will continue to work collaboratively with all counties to speed the vaccination process."

According to Abbott, Texas has now administered 5.7 million vaccine shots and are now administering about 1 million vaccines a week. Abbott also said the COVID-19 positivity rate is the lowest on Tuesday than it has been in four months.

Abbott said that 50% of Texas' seniors are projected to be vaccinated by Wednesday, March 10, while all seniors should be able to get a vaccine if they choose by the end of March. Some medical experts have predicted that every Texan who wants a vaccine may be able to get one in a few months.

While restrictions are lifted, Abbott said that Texans need to continue to be vigilant and follow their own personal safety protocol to keep themselves and their neighbors safe.

"Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility," Abbott said. "To stay safe, Texans should continue to follow medical advice on preventing COVID just as they do on other medical issues. At this time, people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate."

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