SAN ANTONIO – In the moments after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reversed his mask mandate, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued a statement Tuesday asking residents to continue wearing a mask to reduce the spread of the virus.
On Tuesday, Abbott announced that all businesses can operate at full capacity starting next Wednesday and lifted his mandate on requiring face coverings in most Texas counties.
“Opening everything to 100 percent while simultaneously nixing our mask mandate is a huge mistake,” Nirenberg said in a statement. “COVID-19 is still widespread in our community and infecting too many of our vulnerable residents. You don’t cut off your parachute just as you’ve slowed your descent. Please join me in continuing to wear a mask.”
The governor’s orders include a provision that will allow county judges to roll back business capacities if COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region are above 15% for more than seven days.
Abbott said he is ending the state mandates because “Texas is in a far better position now,” pointing to increasing vaccination numbers and better mitigation strategies.
Still, Texas lags behind most of the nation in vaccination percentages. As of Wednesday, roughly 13% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, ranking 48th in the United States.
Abbott said state mandates are no longer needed and that Texans will prevent the spread of the disease by following mitigation strategies themselves.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Abbott said. “Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%.”