After eight months, Abbott announced Tuesday that beginning next Wednesday, March 10, Texans will not be required to wear masks in public.
In a bid to reopen Texas "100 percent" Abbott also said he will rescind the state’s previous executive orders and allow all businesses to reopen at maximum capacity.
"Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility," Abbott cautioned. "Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain COVID. It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed."
Meanwhile, 96 percent of California’s population remains in the most restrictive purple tier, though a number of counties are expected to move to the less restrictive red tier this week. Newsom is facing a recall effort, which could be nearing a vote, over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision comes as governors across the U.S. have been easing coronavirus restrictions, though Texas is one of the largest states to do away with a mask mandate. It follows Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted all restrictions in September and banned local fines for those who don't wear masks. He still allowed local governments to limit bar and restaurant capacity to 50 percent.
Like the rest of the country, Texas has seen the number of cases and deaths plunge. Hospitalizations are at the lowest levels since October, and the seven-day rolling average of positive tests has dropped to about 7,600 cases, down from more than 10,000 in mid-February.
Texas, the second-biggest state, was behind California and New York for Covid-19 deaths.
Abbott noted the state’s low positivity and hospitalization rate, and also pointed out that the vaccine is a big contributing factor to the state’s ability to safely reopen, saying that health experts expect 7 million shots to have been distributed in the state by next Wednesday.