However, he noted businesses have the right to choose if they want to continue limiting capacity or implementing other restrictions.
“People and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Governor Abbott attributed his decision to the increase in vaccine supply and nine percent positivity rate across the state.
He says 5.7 million vaccines have been administered in Texas, which according to the Texas Tribune, is less than seven percent of the 29 million population in the state. Within those vaccinated, a majority are seniors or medical workers.
There are, however, some conditions to the announcement.
If the hospitalization rate in any of the state’s 22 hospital regions exceeds 15 percent for seven consecutive days, a county judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies in their county.
“However, 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 face mask,” said Abbott.
The Panhandle has been under 15 percent in hospitalization rate for almost a month now.
But, if it did increase and a County Judge implemented restrictions, everyone must still be allowed to operate with at least 50 percent capacity.
“Although the customer will no longer have to wear a mask, my employees will continue to wear them,” said restaurant owner for Hoffbrau Steaks in Amarillo, Todd Gray.
Gray adds they are just waiting to see if the state gives any additional guidance before making any permanent decisions.
Meanwhile in a statement sent out to parents today, Amarillo ISD said they are awaiting guidance from the Texas Education Agency and will keep protocols like wearing masks and social distancing in place for now.
Canyon ISD is also awaiting guidance and will continue safety protocols like wearing masks, at least through March 9.
“However, beginning Wednesday March 10th, masks become optional at Canyon ISD and this is subject to the Texas Education Agency guidance which we have not yet received but, we anticipate that this is where we will be,” said Superintendent of Canyon ISD, Dr. Darryl Flusche.
He added they will update parents before March 10.
Despite the changes, Governor Abbott said ending the restrictions does not mean abandoning the safe practices Texans have mastered in the past year.
“Instead, it is a reminder, that each person has their own role to play in their own personal safety as well as in the safety of others. It is a reminder that individual safety is managed everyday as a matter of personal responsibility rather than by government mandate.” said Abbott.
This announcement comes as the CDC and health officials across the country say it is not the time to ease up.