Texas Governor Greg Abbott has effectively opened the door for the state's events sector to reopen, including full-capacity concerts and music festivals.
After the passing of Executive Order GA-34, all Texas businesses will be able to reopen with no restrictions—including mask-wearing—starting March 10th. "I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%. EVERYTHING," Abbott tweeted on Tuesday, March 2nd. "I also ended the statewide mask mandate."
Following Abbott's executive order, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced his own, which reopened the state in similar fashion. "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," he tweeted. "Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!"
The New York Times notes that daily reports of new COVID-19 cases have fallen dramatically across the country after peaking in January. However, the lifts in Texas and Mississippi didn't come without controversy.
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Many have condemned Abbott's edict reopening Texas amid the pandemic, such as CNN, who called his decision "head-scratching" and "anti-science." Much of the disapproval stems from the state's extremely slow per capita vaccination rate, ahead of only Georgia and Utah in the entire country. The Texas Tribune notes that only 6.5% of Texans had been fully vaccinated as of Sunday, February 28th.
The lift of mask mandates comes just one day after comments by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that warned of the dangers of reopening during such a precarious climate. "We stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained," she said during a Monday, March 1st White House briefing. "I know people are tired, they want to get back to life, to normal, but we’re not there yet."
You can read Abbott's Executive Order GA-34 here.