Yesterday, Gov. Abbott announced he is rescinding most of his COVID-19-related statewide mandates on Wednesday, March 10, which includes:
- Allowing the statewide mask order to expire on March 10
- Returning ALL businesses to 100 percent capacity (includes restaurants/retailers)
Despite large gatherings not being specifically addressed, Gov. Abbott’s new executive order states it supersedes a previous Executive Order (GA-32) where large outdoor gatherings were restricted. Please see the City of Bedford section below for more information on large gatherings and special events.
Although much of the restrictions will go away, Gov. Abbot’s latest Executive Order allows for County-level restrictions. Specifically, if a Trauma Service Area sees COVID-19-related hospitalizations above 15 percent for seven consecutive days, County judges have the ability to issue orders of their own to control the case increase. If restrictions are imposed at a County level, those restrictions may not include reducing capacity to less than 50 percent for any type of entity.
The Trauma Service Area that covers much of North Texas, including Bedford, hit the COVID-19-related hospitalization milestone in early December 2020, and was able to roll back enhanced restrictions two weeks ago on February 16.
Gov. Abbott’s reasoning for these changes include the abundance of personal protective equipment, access to COVID tests, antibody therapeutic drugs to reduce hospitalizations, and, most importantly, vaccines. So far, 5.7 million Texans have received their vaccine, with a rate of more than one million people receiving their vaccines per week now.
Yesterday, Judge Whitley rescinded his County-level mask order. However, the statewide mask order remains in place. Masks will continue to be required until March 10.
Masks will still be required in County buildings and property for now.
City of Bedford
At this time, the Bedford Mayor and City Council have not issued any mandates for the City of Bedford regarding masks, large gatherings, or special events. As a reminder, cities and counties are permitted to adopt their own orders so long as these orders do not conflict with the Governor’s orders. The City attorney will provide an update during the Council workshop scheduled for Tuesday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed at www.bedfordtx.gov/bedfordtv.
The City is in the process of deciding how Gov. Abbott’s order will affect mask-wearing, facility hours, occupancy levels, and openings of City facilities. When those decisions are finalized, they will be posted on the City’s website and social media channels.
All public school districts are awaiting TEA’s ruling on mask requirements. On Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency said it would update its guidance sometime this week. On its website, HEB ISD stated they are aware of the new mandate and, “will continue to communicate with parents, students, and staff as we learn more about any impact on our Return to Learn Plan.”
Where Masks Must Still be Worn
In January, the CDC issued an order requiring masks to be worn by travelers and operators on public transportation including airplanes, subways, buses, and ride-shares. Refusal to do so could result in penalties under federal law.
Individual businesses, organizations, and government entities have the right to require employees and patrons to wear masks.
Gov. Abbott’s official press release: https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-lifts-mask-mandate-opens-texas-100-percent