Texas and Mississippi Dropping Covid’19 Restrictions

After almost a year of mask mandates, and Covid’19 restrictions. Texas and Mississippi have decided to reopen their states, and no longer require mask.

A sign asking people to wear a facial covering in Charleston, South Carolina.

A sign asking people to wear a facial covering in Charleston, South Carolina.

In Florida the Governor has been leaving it up to each country to determine if mask are required indoors or not. As you can see above mask are required in Pinellas County. Courtesy of Hope Denicola

On Tuesday March 2nd, 2021 governors from both Texas and Mississippi announced they would be rolling back on Covid’19 restrictions including all state-imposed mask mandates. Greg Abbott tweeted that his state was “OPEN 100% EVERYTHING”. With Governor Tate Reeves (Mississippi Governor) following Texas’s lead dropping all mask mandates and easing up on Covid’19 restrictions in businesses/restaurantsBoth announcements come from the recent roll out of the Covid’19 vaccine and the vaccinating of the state’s population. Texas has opened their states up 100% by allowing indoor capacity back up to 100%, which is leaving some people in tears of joy while others not so much. Texas and Williamsburg resident, Hope Denicola said, “I think it is absolutely fantastic. People are respectful with it, they are still wearing mask where they need too and he (Greg Abbott) opened it up from a state standpoint. But individual jurisdictions depending on the density, and what their Covid’19 outbreaks are at the time can still mandate what they want; like Harrison Country (city outside of Houston) still wears mask.”

On March 10th, Texas fully reopened to what would be considered as “pre-Covid norms.” Allowing 100% capacity in  all indoor establishments and mask not being a requirement rather a suggestion. Governor Abbott stated in a press conference “The mandates are no longer needed due to the advancements of vaccines and therapeutics to protect against Covid-19.” Only around 12.7% of Texas’s population has had at least one dosage of the Covid-19 vaccine. With only 8.3% of the state’s population being fully vaccinated. Over 5.5 million dosages of the vaccine have been distributed to Texas population of 29.8 million residents. According to Washington Post, this ranks Texas 49th of the number of people receiving the Covid’19 vaccine per capita.

#MASKUPHOU, a common hashtag in the Houston, TX where mask are still mandated in indoor places. (Kathryn Motes)

Not all Texas government officials were thrilled with these new announcementsHouston Mayor, Sylvester Turner (Democrat), is worried that dropping restrictions will lead to more deaths, and a rise in cases. Having no mask, and 100% capacity at popular places such as gyms, bars, and restaurants will be a perfect place for community spread.  “At our gym (in Texas) we never had to wear mask in our gym as long as you stayed six feet away,” said Hope Denicola, Texas and Williamsburg resident. Recently cases have been down in Texas by 18%(from around three weeks ago) with 7,693 cases a day. Since, the roll back of the restrictions there is still an average 200 deaths dailyLocal Health Officials in Texas worry that cases will rise, and deaths will only increase as time goes on. Fort Worth, TX Mayor, Betsy Price (Republican), called Governor Abbotts rollback on restrictions “premature”. Texas and Williamsburg resident Thomas (Kevin) Denicola said, “First of all when the CDC came out originally they said mask don’t do anything. Since that didn’t go over really well for some reason with certain people they decided they would reverse their position and say mask help but in fact look at what people are wearing. They are not wearing any type of mask that is actually small enough to block the virus. So there is a false sense of security by wearing a mask.” 

Dunkin’ donuts, in Baltimore, Maryland asking customers to wear a mask. However it is not required to have one on to enter the store, rather a suggestion. (Kathryn Motes)

In Mississippi, Governor Reeves also is lifting Covid-19 restrictions, and mask mandates. Governor Tate Reeves established an executive order 1549, which went into effect on March 3rd . The order included, ‘All county mask mandates removed’, ‘No restrictions on businesses’, ‘K-12 Schools are still required to wear mask, which will allow students to continue in-person school safely’, and more restrictions based on capacity, and limitations. However, the state government is still recommending that businesses as well as citizens still follow the CDC guidelines.  Around 700,000 vaccines have been distributed in Mississippi this far. This is ranking Mississippi 47th for people receiving the Covid’19 vaccine per capita, according to the Washington Post. Unlike Texas, Mississippi is not as opened. With still limiting indoor venue capacity to 25%, outdoor venue capacity to 50%, and clubs and suites being limited to 75%.   

At our local Target in Williamsburg, you can see signs posted on the front doors requiring to wear a mask before you enter the store. (Kathryn Motes)

Due to more states no longer requiring mask and rolling back Covid’19 restrictions, many companies are now requiring them in their stores or places of establishment. H-E-B, which is a Texas Grocery store chain, has released a statement saying that they are still requiring customers to wear mask inside their stores, but employees will not have confrontation with customers if they don’t wear them. Kroger, an Ohio based grocery store chain, is requiring all customers to wear a mask following their employees. Target, and Starbucks, are a few of largecompanies requiring mask to still be worn in their stores, even if their state no longer requires them. Hope Denicola said, “The states we have just driven through fantastic. South Carolina the restaurants were 100% and Alabama seem to have no problems either, when we drove through Mobile. Texas’s economy is coming back. Everyone is responsible for themselves not the government being responsible for us.”

The state government in Texas is now leaving restrictions, and mask mandates up to local jurisdictions.

SandBar Bill’s Bar and Grill, in St. Petersburg, Florida limiting parties around the bar. Mask are required here, for staff and customers. Beach goers are not required to wear mask but most carry them in their hand, since it is their spring break.
Courtesy of Hope Denicola

Thomas (Kevin) Denicola said, “It makes sense that downtown Houston or urban areas might have harder restrictions than some place that is fairly rural. So I think tailoring to where it needs to be is fine.” Whereas more urban areas should have tighter restrictions than smaller less populated areas. The more control there is the more sneaking around and cheating the system you will be getting. The lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the rollback of mask mandates all went into effect on March 10th This was nine months after Governor Abbott made mask mandatory. Many states are following Texas and Mississippi’s lead by lifting some Covid’19 restrictions and getting rid of state mandated mask requirements.