Texas governor lifts state’s mask mandate, business restrictions

Eva Martinez and Sandra Vaden receive vaccination against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a drive-through site in Robstown, Texas, U.S. February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Go Nakamura

(Reuters) – The governor of Texas lifted most of the state’s coronavirus pandemic restrictions, allowing businesses to reopen at full capacity as of next week and telling residents that masks were no longer required.

The move by Governor Greg Abbott marks the furthest any U.S. state has so far gone to roll back harsh restrictions on businesses and residents imposed by political leaders in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is now time to open Texas 100%,” Abbott said at an afternoon news briefing. The full lifting of the mandates will take effect on March 1, he said.

Abbott’s order comes as COVID-19 infections have plummeted in recent weeks across much of the world, including the United States.

According to a Reuters tally roughly 68,240 new cases have been reported on average each day this week, or 27% of the peak daily average reported on Jan. 7. The United States has recorded 28,681,793 infections and 513,721 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)

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