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'It Is Now Time To Open Texas 100%' Gov. Greg Abbott Says

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott leads a roundtable discussion on law enforcement and public safety priorities in Austin on Jan. 21.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott leads a roundtable discussion on law enforcement and public safety priorities in Austin on Jan. 21.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he's lifting statewide executive orders that limit occupancy for businesses and require Texans to wear masks in public spaces.

"Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%," Abbott said.

The governor said businesses can limit capacity or "implement additional safety protocols" if they wish and that counties can restrict occupancy if COVID-related hospitalization rates rise above 15% for seven straight days.

However, Abbott said, officials can't impose fines or ticket Texans for violating COVID-related restrictions like refusing to wear a mask or not following a county's orders.

"Under no circumstance can a county judge put anybody in jail for not following COVID orders and no penalties can [be] imposed for failing to wear a facemask," he said.

The governor said county judges can place caps on businesses if COVID hospitalizations rise above that 15% threshold, but that occupancy limits for businesses cannot go below 50%.

"At this time ... people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate," he said.

While the state has seen a drop-off in new cases and deaths in recent weeks, Texas is still far behind in vaccination efforts. Texas is currently 54th among all 50 states, territories and protectorates in the share of vaccinated residents. Just over 12% of the overall population has received one dose of a vaccine, while 6% have received both doses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last week, the Department of State Health Services announced it had received its largest shipment of vaccines in 12 weeks and that the state has so far administered more than 5 million doses.

Watch Abbott's news conference:
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