The state has fully vaccinated about 2.1 million.
On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state is lifting its mask mandate and increasing capacity for all businesses to 100 percent, effective March 10.
Previously, restaurants were allowed 50 to 75 percent capacity, depending on the region’s hospitalization rates. Now, operators will be able to use their entire venue for the first time since March 2020.
"With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Abbott in a statement. "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.”
Businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional restrictions. If COVID hospitalizations rise above 15 percent in a region for seven straight days, a county judge may use COVID mitigation strategies. However, the judge cannot impose jail time for not following COVID orders or penalize anyone for not wearing a mask. If mitigation strategies are deployed at a county level, it can’t include capacity restrictions below 50 percent.
As of Wednesday morning, Texas has administered nearly six million doses, and fully vaccinated about 2.1 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Abbott said that by March 10, roughly seven million shots will have been administered and more than half of seniors will have received a shot. The governor added that every senior who wants a vaccine should be able to receive one by the end of March.
So far, the state has vaccinated 7.19 percent of its population, which is 36th-best among all states and U.S. territories.
Abbott said the number of active COVID cases is the lowest since November. The governor also reported that Texas has a surplus of PPE and can perform more than 100,000 COVID tests per day. More than 2.5 million have recovered since the pandemic began and that experts say the total number is likely four to five times as high.
“[Tuesday’s] announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year,” Abbott said. “Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny."