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COVID-19 US: Texas officially lifts restrictions TODAY meaning no more mask mandates

Texas on Wednesday officially lifted its COVID-19 restrictions, meaning no more mask mandates and businesses can now function at full capacity. 

The Lone Star state was one of the first to reopen its economy after the first wave of pandemic cases last May, and the nation’s second most populous state led the way again after Governor Greg Abbott announced the relaxation amid declines in new daily COVID-19 cases and with the rollout of vaccines.  

Several major retailers, grocery and restaurant chains in Texas said they would still require that masks be worn in their stores, which under Abbott’s order relaxing restrictions is their right to do.

Still, some expected to see standoffs between maskless customers and store employees on Wednesday.

Texas on Wednesday officially lifted its COVID-19 restrictions, meaning no more mask mandates and businesses to are now allowed to function at full capacity. People order breakfast at Bill Smith’s Cafe in McKinney on Wednesday 

The Lone Star state was one of the first to reopen its economy after the first wave of pandemic cases last May, and the nation's second most populous state led the way again last week when Governor Greg Abbott announced the relaxation amid declines in new daily COVID-19 cases and with the rollout of vaccines. People order breakfast on Wednesday

The Lone Star state was one of the first to reopen its economy after the first wave of pandemic cases last May, and the nation’s second most populous state led the way again last week when Governor Greg Abbott announced the relaxation amid declines in new daily COVID-19 cases and with the rollout of vaccines. People order breakfast on Wednesday

Several major retailers, grocery and restaurant chains in Texas said they would still require that masks be worn in their stores, which under Abbott's order relaxing restrictions is their right to do. Still, some expected to see standoffs between maskless customers and store employees on Wednesday

Several major retailers, grocery and restaurant chains in Texas said they would still require that masks be worn in their stores, which under Abbott’s order relaxing restrictions is their right to do. Still, some expected to see standoffs between maskless customers and store employees on Wednesday

Roxana Boroujerdi reads a book in Houston, Texas on Wednesday - the day Texas statewide mask mandate ended

Roxana Boroujerdi reads a book in Houston, Texas on Wednesday – the day Texas statewide mask mandate ended

Texas has the second highest number of cases across the US. It is the first time since July last year residents are no longer required to wear a mask.   

Announcing the reopening Gov Greg Abbott had said: ‘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.’

As of Wednesday, 44,650 Texans have died of the virus; more than 2.3 million have tested positive. COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases are at their lowest since September. 

More than 4.5 million Texans have received at least one vaccination shot and the state could soon be rolling them out to restaurant, grocery and transportation workers.    

Greg Abbott issued a rollback of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions which went into force Wednesday

Greg Abbott issued a rollback of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions which went into force Wednesday 

People share drinks at a bar as the Texas prepares to lift its mask mandate and reopen businesses to full capacity during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Houston, Texas Tuesday

People share drinks at a bar as the Texas prepares to lift its mask mandate and reopen businesses to full capacity during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Houston, Texas Tuesday 

On paper, Texas’ rollback of coronavirus mitigation efforts is the most sweeping seen in the United States, along with a similar measure in Mississippi. In practice, vast swaths of Texas have rarely enforced mask or occupancy mandates in the past year, anyway.  

As of Sunday, 18% of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

County officials in regions where COVID patients take up 15% or more of hospital beds for seven consecutive days can enact new mask and occupancy restrictions, under Abbott’s order, but no regions are currently in that situation.

In Austin the city council voted to still require masks – and dared state officials to sue the city. ‘In Austin, we’re committed to saving lives,’ city council member Greg Casar wrote on Twitter. 

He added: ‘If state officials don’t want to do their jobs protecting people from the virus, then we will. 

‘This action is both legal and the right thing to do. If state officials choose to sue, they’ll be going out of their way to harm the health of Texans.’ 

Governor Greg Abbott announced the relaxation amid declines in new daily COVID-19 cases and with the rollout of vaccines

Governor Greg Abbott announced the relaxation amid declines in new daily COVID-19 cases and with the rollout of vaccines

As of Wednesday, 44,650 Texans have died of the virus; more than 2.3 million have tested positive. COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases are at their lowest since September

As of Wednesday, 44,650 Texans have died of the virus; more than 2.3 million have tested positive. COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases are at their lowest since September

More than 4.5 million Texans have received at least one vaccination shot and the state could soon be rolling them out to restaurant, grocery and transportation workers

More than 4.5 million Texans have received at least one vaccination shot and the state could soon be rolling them out to restaurant, grocery and transportation workers

Austin Mayor Steve Adler also issued a statement after Abbott’s announcement last week, saying that the state should follow ‘science and data’, which supports continued mask-wearing. 

The Texas Education Agency’s guidance for public schools is for the continued use of masks, while nursing homes in the state will not loosen restrictions.

The Dallas Jewish Conservatives organization plans to host a party Wednesday evening with about 200 people. 

There will be a moment of silence for the pandemic’s dead, refreshments for the guests and a bonfire into which folks will be encouraged to toss masks.

‘It’s about freedom, liberty and personal responsibility,’ said Benjie Gershon, founder of the group. ‘The act of throwing a mask into the bonfire…is in no way meant to belittle or undermine the tragic numbers of individuals who have fallen ill to COVID.’  

A waitress works at Bill Smith's Cafe, after Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a rollback of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in McKinney, Texas Wednesday

A waitress works at Bill Smith’s Cafe, after Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a rollback of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in McKinney, Texas Wednesday 

On paper, Texas' rollback of coronavirus mitigation efforts is the most sweeping seen in the United States, along with a similar measure in Mississippi. In practice, vast swaths of Texas have rarely enforced mask or occupancy mandates in the past year, anyway

On paper, Texas’ rollback of coronavirus mitigation efforts is the most sweeping seen in the United States, along with a similar measure in Mississippi. In practice, vast swaths of Texas have rarely enforced mask or occupancy mandates in the past year, anyway

On Tuesday it was reported that the highly contagious UK variant of the virus is rapidly spreading throughout Houston.

The Houston Health Department revealed the variant, known as B.1.1.7 was found at more than three-quarters of the city’s wastewater plants in samples collected February 22.

This is 47 percent higher than the number of plants the strain was detected at just two weeks earlier. The analysis was conducted just a week before Governor Greg Abbott’s reopening order. 


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