Shortly after Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday his state will be open “100%” after a year of coronavirus restrictions, President Biden told reporters the nation may have to wait another year before it returns to normal.
Abbott’s executive order, which will go into effect March 10, allows all businesses to fully reopen and revoke the statewide mask mandate.
“To be clear, COVID has not, like, suddenly disappeared,” Abbott said at a news conference at a restaurant in Lubbock, Texas. “COVID still exists in Texas, the United States and across the globe, but it is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, from the reduced hospitalizations and from the safe practices Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed.”
Meanwhile, Biden was asked Tuesday by a reporter when the nation will return to “normal.”
“I’ve been cautioned not to give an answer for that because we do not know for sure. But my hope is by this time next year we’ll be back to normal,” he replied. “But again it depends on people to continue, to continue to be smart and understand that we still can have significant losses.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom reacted on Twitter to Abbott’s move, calling it “absolutely reckless.”
Absolutely reckless. https://t.co/3O5GsbSLpM
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 2, 2021
Abbott cited the lowest positivity rate in the state in months as well as the distribution of vaccines. He said that by next Wednesday, according to health experts, 7 million shots will have been administered in the state.
Anyone who wants a shot will be able to get one within a few months, he said.
The governor said businesses will have the freedom to limit capacity or implement safety protocols if they want.
He said county judges will have the authority to implement COVID-19 mitigation measures if hospitalizations rise above 15% of bed capacity in any region for seven straight days.
But no one can be jailed for not following county orders or for not wearing a mask.