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Starr County Judge says he does not agree with Gov. Abbott’s decision to lift statewide face masks order

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Rio Grande City, Texas (KVEO)—On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the reopening of Texas businesses after nearly a year of various shutdowns and restrictions to quell the spread of COVID-19.

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“It’s time to reopen Texas 100%,” Abbott said. “Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open, should be open.”

Abbott announced a new executive order effective next Wednesday that will allow any business to open at 100% capacity if they choose to. Saying that statewide mandates are “no longer necessary,” he also announced the end of the mandatory mask mandate effective March 10.

Abbott explained that under the new order, a county judge may impose certain mitigation ordinances if COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions of Texas rise above 15% of bed capacity for seven straight days. But even if countywide recommendations are enacted, Abbott said residents will not be able to be jailed for refusing to follow county judge recommendations.

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Moreover, even if hospital beds do rise above capacity for a week, businesses will still be able to operate at a 50% capacity minimum.

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera said he does not agree with Gov. Abbott’s decision.

“He is the Governor and we need to do what his orders call for, but I am not in agreement at this time,” said Vera. “I think we are just now trying to get a handle on this situation, and to open now is a huge gamble that is not necessary.”

Vera encourages residents to continue wearing masks and to take precaution.

“I strongly recommend to continue to wear masks until our numbers decrease and more people get vaccinated,” said Vera.

Vera said he is advising restaurants and businesses within the County to continue requesting customers to wear face coverings.

“It’s much like, no shirt, no shoes, no service, same thing.. no mask, no service,” said Vera. “No one has the right to take that away from the property owner or the business owner.”

Gov. Abbott’s order is tied to the percentage of hospital capacity. The order says County Judges would have the ability to reimpose some limits, but now all, if a region sees an increase in hospitalizations.

“Right now we cannot enforce the mask mandate,” said Vera. “Businesses can enforce them in order to go into their place of business.”

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