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US: Texas governor rolls back COVID-19 directives, lifts mask mandate

So far, less than 7 per cent Texans have been vaccinated against COVID-19

covid-mask-coronavirus-ap Representational image | AP

Texas Governor rolled back a state mask mandate. Governor Greg Abbott also announced that he was authorising businesses to open with 100 per cent capacity. 

“For nearly half a year, most businesses have been open either 75 per cent or 50 per cent and during that time, too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Abbott told AFP.

Democratic lawmakers have condemned the announcement amid a warning about a surge in coronavirus cases. So far, less than 7 per cent of Texans have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, as per data from John Hopkins University. The state, recently hit by a snowstorm, currently has 5,644 patients hospitalised due to the coronavirus. The state has had 43,000 people die of COVID-19.

“Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills,” the Republican governor said, adding, “This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100 per cent.” His comments were received with cheers at the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. Abbot said the executive order taking back his previous COVID-19 directives would be effective Wednesday onwards. Texans have “mastered the daily habits to avoid getting COVID,” Abbott said.

“We had a chance maybe by the end of the summer of getting a handle on this pandemic. This governor is just going to throw all of that out and put us back to the stone ages,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the chair of the Texas Democratic party told The Guardian.

Texas, however, isn’t the only state to be rolling back COVID-19 directives. Mississippi and cities in Michigan and Louisiana are also rolling back restrictions on businesses and lifting the mask mandate.

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