SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) Gov. Greg Abbott says it is time to open businesses 100 percent.
“Effective Wednesday, all businesses of any kind are allowed to open 100 percent,” the governor said Tuesday.
He’s also lifting the COVID-19 state mandates next Wednesday, March 10, including the statewide mask order, with some exceptions.
“COVID still exists, but it is clear from recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, state mandates are no longer needed,” said Abbott.
His executive order lifting the pandemic restrictions does not apply to counties with high hospitalization rates, defined as “any Trauma Service Area that has had seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity exceeds 15 percent.”
In those counties, county judges can implement mask requirements, but no penalty or jail time can be imposed. Capacity at businesses also can be rolled back to less than 50 percent of total occupancy when the coronavirus hospitalization rates remain above 15 percent for seven consecutive days.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff expressed disappointment in Abbott’s announcement Tuesday.
“It’s an irresponsible action, way too early. We still have 464 COVID-19 patients in the hospitals,” Wolff told KTSA News, but the hospital numbers don’t meet the threshold that allows county judges to impose a mask requirement or rollback capacity at businesses. “We think it’s way premature to be doing this and it sends a terrible message to everybody that everything’s fine when in fact, it is not fine.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg says lifting the COVID-19 statewide mandates is a mistake.
“Opening everything 100% while simultaneously nixing our state’s mask mandate is a huge mistake. COVID-19 is still widespread in our community and infecting far too many vulnerable residents,” Nirenberg tweeted.
He’s asking area residents to continue wearing a mask.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” the mayor said.
Businesses can continue to restrict capacity and impose mask requirements. You won’t have to wear a mask to shop at H-E-B, but the grocery store chain will continue to require face coverings for employees and vendors.