Effective 10 March 2021, the state of Texas has lifted mask requirements and business occupancy limits, implemented at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In more detail
Texas has become one of the first states to eliminate COVID-19-related mask requirements and business occupancy limits. During a press conference in Lubbock on Tuesday, 2 March, Governor Greg Abbott announced the end of the Texas statewide mask mandate, and rescinded all limits on business occupancy that were introduced at the beginning of the pandemic last year. The new policy takes effect in one week.
The lifting of restrictions is applicable to those counties in which hospitalizations rates have declined below a threshold in the Executive Order, as set out here. Any conflicting local or state provisions are superseded. Businesses, however, may impose additional hygiene measures as appropriate with health guidelines, including wearing masks. If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas increase above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use certain COVID-19 mitigation strategies.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Abbott said. “Too many have struggled to pay bills. It is now time to open Texas 100%.” Abbott acknowledged that COVID-19 is still affecting the state, saying “make no mistake, COVID has not suddenly disappeared. COVID still exists in Texas, in the United States and across the globe… 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 number of vaccines in Texas will continue to increase rapidly and the number of active COVID-19 cases are at the lowest since November of 2020. Effective Wednesday, 10 March, all businesses of any type may reopen to 100% capacity without a mask mandate.
“Businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols at their own discretion,” Abbott said, adding that “today’s announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.”
This recent announcement also follows Abbott’s State of the State address on 1 February, where he mentioned that he planned to ask the Legislature to work on an immunity provision in Texas law for employers.
Click here for additional information, guidelines and the Governor’s statement.