Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday lifting all COVID-19 restrictions in the state, including mask mandates and occupancy limits. The order rescinds previous executive orders and supersedes any inconsistent local orders. Businesses may still require face coverings and additional hygiene measures for employees and customers.
The announcement comes as new variants of the virus are spreading through Texas. Houston is the first major city to record all five new variants. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that the new variants could reverse recent declines in cases. On the day the executive order was issued, Texas had 7,240 new COVID-19 cases and at least 275 deaths. Around 13 percent of Texans have been vaccinated against the virus, which is below the national average of 15 percent.