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Texas lawmakers react to Gov. Abbott lifting COVID-19 restrictions, mask mandate

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — State lawmakers are sharing their thoughts on Gov. Greg Abbott’s removal of the statewide mask mandate and other COVID-19 business restrictions.

Starting March 10, Texas will rescind much of the state-imposed restrictions on businesses imposed during the pandemic. He announced a new executive order allowing any business to open at 100% capacity if they choose, and will end the statewide mask mandate.

“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.”

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan was among the first lawmakers to issue a statement after the Governor’s announcement on Tuesday.

“Today’s action marks an important step in the reopening of Texas, improving the mental health of our students, increasing the reporting of domestic violence and child abuse, and revitalizing our business climate,” Phelan said, explaining that the “the Texas approach empowers citizens to exercise personal responsibility about their health in the fight against COVID-19.”

State Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Driftwood, posted a photo shortly after the announcement from her office with her staff, all wearing masks.

“Masks are one of our best tools to slow the spread of COVID-19, and ours aren’t going anywhere,” she said.

State Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, criticized the announcement.

“The mask mandate costs the public next to nothing. Scientists and doctors have praised the efficacy of masking up,” he tweeted. “So why get rid of something that has little to no cost and is very effective? Politics.”

State Rep. Jeff Cason, R-Bedford, said the Tarrant County Judge’s move to rescind his own executive order requiring face coverings in light of Abbott’s announcement was “great news.”

“The Texas shutdown has cost our state jobs and impeded the liberty of all Texans,” State Rep. Jeff Cason, R-Bedford, said. “I am very pleased that Governor Abbott will be lifting those state mandates next Wednesday and I look forward to seeing Texas prosper once more.”

“I will also work to ensure that shutdowns can never happen again without legislative approval,” Cason stated.

State Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, said the day was one to “celebrate.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said rescinding restrictions puts Texas “one step closer to a return to normalcy.”

“The Texas economy is coming back stronger than ever and Governor Greg Abbott’s announcement today will help us restore the livelihoods of millions of Texas even faster,” Patrick stated. “Texas has proved what I have said throughout this long year of the pandemic — we can do two things at once  — maintain our economy and fight COVID-19.”

State Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, called the decision “a little hasty.”

State Rep. Sheryl Cole, D-Austin, said her office would continue to require an appointment, a negative test, and a mask to enter her office.

“I implore everyone, regardless of what restrictions have been lifted – show compassion and use common sense in the coming months,” she stated. “Wear a mask. Socially distance. If you can, when available, get a vaccine. Help us put this nightmare to bed and get back to the real normal.”

The Chairman of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Kevin Lilly, said TABC supported Abbott’s executive order.

The Texas Education Agency said “updated public health guidance from TEA will be coming this week.”

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