While speaking in Dallas Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said, "lockdowns are wrong during the course of a pandemic" and that "there will not be any government-imposed shutdowns or mask mandates" in Texas.
Abbott was in town to address the Asian-American Hotel Owners Association's National Convention.
During his address, Abbott assured the attendees their businesses would not be closed down during an emergency and that the power would remain on due to recent legislation passed in the state.
"One thing that we know is that safe practices are important, that said, one thing that we've learned along the way is that lockdowns are wrong during the course of a pandemic," Abbott said.
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Abbott was under fire from President Joe Biden on Tuesday for his executive order banning jurisdictions from imposing mask mandates. Biden told Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to either help stop the spread of COVID-19, which is surging in both states, or "get out of the way."
Abbott reaffirmed his position Wednesday that mask mandates aren't necessary in Texas because Texans already know what to do to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"So going forward we will encourage everyone to implement the safest strategies to make sure that we continue to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19 including the safest thing that can be done and that is to make sure that everyone who wants one will get a vaccine," Abbott said.
"That said, going forward, there will not be any government-imposed shutdowns or mask mandates. Everyone already knows what to do. Everyone can voluntarily implement the mandates that are safest for them, for their families, and for their businesses."
Last week Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting schools, governments, and other jurisdictions from instituting mask mandates. That order including blocking school districts from creating mask policies at elementary schools where children under the age of 11 are not yet eligible for the vaccine and have no other protection from the virus other than masks and hand washing.
Despite the governor's assurances that Texans know what to do, many people feel mask mandates are necessary because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that masks work when everyone wears them, not just one person.
While people wearing face coverings do benefit from having one on, the individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use because the masks block the release of exhaled respiratory particles from other people who may be infected. Masks aren't just about what's safest for the individual, as the governor claims, they are about protecting the community as a whole.
On Tuesday, one of the largest teacher's associations in Texas, the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, called on Abbott to allow local school districts to make their own decisions about face coverings. Their request, like one made last week by the Texas State Teachers Association, has apparently been ignored.