Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifts mask mandate

Abbott removes Texas COVID-19 mandates


Taken from live stream

Gov. Greg Abbott rolls back mask mandates in press release on March 2.

On March 2, 2021, Texas Governor Gregg Abbot announced and issued an Executive Order that ends the COVID-19 mask mandate requiring Texans to wear a mask in public areas. This order also allows businesses throughout the State of Texas to reopen at full capacity. This order is to go into effect on March 10, 2021.

“With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Governor Gregg Abbott, said in a press release from The Office of the State Governor. “We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent.”

Executive Order GA-34 calls for all counties in the State of Texas that are not under an area with high COVID-19 hospitalizations to no longer uphold mandates that require people to wear face coverings in public. This means that the local government may not pass or uphold any laws or mandates that require the public to wear a mask in public areas.

The Executive Order also removes all COVID-19 centered mandates that require businesses and public establishments to enforce operating limits. This lift will allow establishments to maintain full capacity of employees and customers within their establishments without having to follow mandates from the local government.

High hospitalizations, as defined by the Executive Order, is where hospitals in an area or county have seven consecutive days of COVID-19 patients exceeding 15 percent of hospital capacity. Counties that are experiencing high hospitalization are permitted to not enforce masks and limited capacity mandates alongside other counties, but the County Judge of that county has the authority to pass COVID-19 mitigation strategies. These strategies are at the discretion of the county judge and local health officials, but the Executive Order does require that such strategies not require businesses to limit operations at less than 50 percent.

The order also prevents any mandates that limit operations to establishments that provide religious services, education, both public and private, as well as those of higher education, and childcare services. The order also prevents jurisdictions to punish individuals or businesses for not following local COVID-19 mandates or enforcement of wearing face coverings.

While local governments and law enforcement are limited in passing and upholding COVID-19 related mandates, Gov. Abbot makes it clear that the threat of COVID-19 is still present.

“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,” Abbot said.

The order also makes it clear that the public is strongly encouraged to follow their best judgement and make decisions to protect themselves while the pandemic is ongoing. In doing so, the public can still wear face masks in public areas if social distancing of six feet is not possible. Businesses are also encouraged to establish hygiene measures for employees and customers at their discretion and without restriction from the order.

While there have not been any statements detailing how Tarleton State University will proceed, Cecilia Jacobs, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications, spoke with The JTAC and gave a statement responding to the executive order.

“Tarleton State University is aware that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has lifted the mask mandate, effective March 10. Until then, the university will continue with current safety guidelines,” Jacobs said.

Update: March 5, 2021

The Texas A&M University System Chancellor, John Sharp, sent out an email today regarding the Texas A&M University System’s decision on weather or not to continue the mask mandate in classes titled “Texas A&M System Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Protocols.”

This email first and foremost states that all A&M System COVID-19 protocols should remain in place for the rest of the spring semester. These include mandatory mask wearing and social distancing during all school events.

“At the conclusion of the spring semester, we anticipate System guidance being lifted so that all rules, procedures and practices regarding classes, travel, face coverings, testing, etc., will be determined locally at your institution informed by your conditions and reviewed by the System,” Sharp said.

You can view the Texas A&M system COVID-19 protocols at: web.tarleton.edu/roadmap/

The JTAC will continue to update this article as information is available.