Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday lifted a state mask mandate and said he was authorizing businesses restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic to open "100 percent."
"For nearly half a year, most businesses have been open either 75 percent or 50 percent and during that time, too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities," Abbott said.
"Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills," the Republican governor said in a speech to the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce.
"This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100 percent," he said to cheers and applause from his audience.
"Every business that wants to be open should be open."
Abbott said he was lifting the restrictions because of the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines, and better testing and treatments.
"Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus," he said.
Abbott imposed a mask mandate in the second most populous US state eight months ago.
He said an executive order rescinding his previous Covid-19 orders and restrictions would take effect on Wednesday.