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AUSTIN, Texas, March 3, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he is finally lifting his state’s COVID-19 mask mandate and remaining lockdown restrictions, eliciting a mixed response between those relieved to be reopening and resentful that Abbott kept the state closed as long as he did.
The new executive order officially rescinds most of Abbott’s previous emergency orders related to COVID-19, including the statewide mask mandate, and allows businesses to reopen at 100 percent capacity. It also forbids judges from imposing penalties for wearing a face mask and limits the new restrictions that can be imposed at a county level.
“With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Abbott said in a press release. “We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent. Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed. 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.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves also made a similar announcement Tuesday, declaring that “the governor’s office is getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall effort due in part to imposing some of the harshest COVID restrictions in the country, condemned Texas’s announcement as “absolutely reckless,” with various left-wing pundits predicting disaster:
As somebody who has flown to Texas during the mask mandate: Lifting it is a significant deterrent to me going back.
Requiring masks is one of the smallest things the community can ask of us. Masks make travel and commerce much easier. Economically, this will backfire.
— Will Saletan (@saletan) March 3, 2021
On the other side, the announcements have been met with praise by public figures such as Bishop Joseph Strickland, while some conservatives argue that Abbott finally reversing himself does not fully exonerate him for imposing the restrictions in the first place:
Texas rejoices as Governor Abbott says “open up 100%”. Thanks be to God.
— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) March 2, 2021
And he was destroying industry with his % limit restrictions. He deserves nothing but a vote out of office, and to never be heard from again. The man failed the tyrant test.
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) March 2, 2021
In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams counseled against wearing masks, as did White House COVID adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, claiming they were ineffective at blocking COVID. But the public later learned that health officials actually wanted to discourage the general public from buying masks to conserve the supply for health workers.
Despite the popular insistence that masking is essential outside one’s home, there remain reasons to doubt their effectiveness, such as the CDC’s September acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out the coronavirus when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, or a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”