SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Mayor Ron Nirenberg says allowing businesses to operate at 100 percent capacity and lifting the mask mandate at this time is “a huge mistake.” While the numbers have improved, Nirenberg says COVID-19 is still widespread in our community.
“You don’t cut off your parachute as you’ve slowed your descent. Wearing a mask is one of the easiest ways to slow the spread of COVID-19, so please wear your mask to protect yourself and to protect others around you ,” said the mayor.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff called the governor’s decision “irresponsible.”
The governor announced Tuesday that the statewide mask requirement and other COVID-19 restrictions will be rescinded March 10. However, county judges can rollback capacity at businesses and implement a face covering mandate if the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals remains at 15 percent for seven consecutive days.
“If hospitalizations get up to 15 (percent) again, I hope to goodness they don’t, a lot of people are going to die and a lot of people are going to be in serious condition before it even gets to 15,” said Wolff.
The governor’s order allows businesses to implement their own COVID-19 restrictions.
“It is their business, and they get to choose to operate their business the way they want to. At this time, however, people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate,” said Abbott.
The leader of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce supports the governor’s decision.
“We applaud Governor Abbott for giving businesses the flexibility to make the decisions they feel are necessary to keep their employees, clients and customers safe and their businesses flourishing,” said the Chamber President and CEO, Richard Perez. “We have seen improving COVID-19 numbers in the San Antonio region, and we are confident that our business community will continue to do everything possible to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all. With the availability of vaccines increasing, we are certain that Texas will be well positioned to be the economic powerhouse we have always been.”
Wolff says masks will continue to be required at County facilities and parks.
San Antonio Councilwoman Ana Sandoval says lifting the COVID restrictions now is contrary to proven science.
“Rolling back precautions across the state — before the majority of Texans are vaccinated and at a time when we’re contending with new variants of COVID-19 — recklessly endangers the lives of millions. It is a slap in the face to every frontline worker who continues to risk their lives,” Sandoval said. “State leadership is more concerned with ending pandemic precautions than it is with ending the pandemic.”
Local public schools are continuing to require masks, for now.
Barry Perez, spokesman for the Northside Independent School District, told KTSA News,”While Northside ISD awaits additional guidance from TEA (Texas Education Agency), all current safety protocols will remain in place, including the use of face masks.
Several other school districts issued similar statements.