Texas and Mississippi are both lifting their mask mandates and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the states to 100%. This means that social gatherings, including at sports stadiums, concert halls and other large venues, will be allowed in Texas and Mississippi without any restrictions.
Effective March 10, all businesses in Texas will be allowed to open at full capacity for the first time in nearly a year, Gov. Greg Abbott announced. Businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols at their own discretion.
"With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus," Abbott said after issuing Executive Order GA-34. "We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100%.
"Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed. Today's announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny."
Mississippi on Tuesday issued a separate executive order to lift the state's mask mandates and give all businesses the green light to reopen at full capacity.
"Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules," Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves wrote on Twitter. "Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!"
More than 3.5 million Texans have so far received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 1.8 million fully vaccinated. In Mississippi, 14.1% of the state's residents have had at least one dose, and 7.6% are fully vaccinated.
Iowa and Montana recently lifted statewide mask mandates, while Massachusetts is completely lifting capacity limits on indoor dining, and allowing concert venues to open at 50 percent capacity.
Late last month, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said that he was optimistic that large-scale American concerts were closer than ever to returning. He said that "a clear outline to a 75% to 100%” capacity for outdoor U.S. events in 2021 was looking likely to be green-lit."
Rapino added that the prospect capacity re-opening in the largest U.S. markets with over 75% capacity was "within sight." He said: "We are seeing… what we've been talking about: [fans] are excited to get back to the show as soon as we get the green lights in these markets to open up."