On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the state is dropping all of its COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and its statewide mask mandate.
During a press conference, Abbot said “all businesses, of any type,” can fully open effective March 10, according to Forbes. “It’s now time to open Texas 100 percent,” he declared.
“Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity,” Abbott said. “Every business that wants to be open should be open.”
Following Abbot’s announcement, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced that he would end the statewide mask mandate as of Wednesday.
Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules. Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) March 2, 2021
Texas and Mississippi join a host of other states that have already begun loosening their COVID-19 restrictions. Michigan increased indoor dining capacity on Tuesday, while Massachusetts and Arkansas have completely dropped occupancy restrictions on restaurants. Additionally, Montana, Iowa, and North Dakota have rolled back their statewide mask mandates.
Relaxing restrictions have drawn criticism from health officials concerned about the more infectious coronavirus variants that have emerged. Officials also caution that too few Americans have been vaccinated at this point to achieve herd immunity.
“I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Monday.
“Please hear me clearly,” she said. “At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.”