'It Is Now Time To Open Texas 100 Percent,' Gov. Greg Abbott Says
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he's lifting statewide executive orders that limit occupancy for businesses and require Texans to wear masks in public spaces.
"Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%," Abbott said.
Abbott said that businesses are still allowed to limit capacity or "implement additional safety protocols," they are allowed to, and he said counties could impose limits on occupancy if COVID-related hospitalization rates rises above 15%.
However, Abbott added, officials can't impose fines or ticket Texans for violating COVID-related restrictions like refusing to wear a mask or not following a county's orders.
"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 facemask," he said.
The governor said county judges can place caps on businesses if COVID hospitalizations rise above that 15% threshold, but that county-imposed occupancy limits for businesses wouldn't be able to go above 50%.
"At this time ... people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate," he said.
While the state has seen a drop-off in new cases and deaths in recent weeks, Texas is still far behind in statewide vaccination efforts. Texas is currently in 54th among all 50 states, territories and protectorates in the share of vaccinated residents. Just over 12% of the overall population has received one dose of a vaccine, while 6% have received both doses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last week, the Department of State Health Services announced it had received its largest shipment of vaccines in 12 weeks and that the state has so far administered more than 5 million doses of vaccines.
Watch Abbott's news conference below beginning at 1:30 p.m.
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