Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced there will be no plans for another statewide shutdown as COVID-19 cases rise in the state, just days after he warned that another lockdown could be in the cards if people didn’t wear masks.
The Republican governor told KPRC on Wednesday that officials are not working on closing down more businesses.
“I get this question, it seems like, a thousand times a day. People are panicking thinking I’m about to shut down Texas again. The answer is no,” Abbott told the Houston-based station.
Authorities believe that the widespread usage of face coverings or masks should slow the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and reduce the case numbers, he added.
“If everyone can adopt the practice of wearing a face mask for the next four weeks, we will be able to get COVID-19 under control,” Abbott said.
Earlier this month, the governor mandated that everyone wear masks while in a public setting. The state is still scrambling to contain the surge in cases as Texas recorded nearly 10,800 new cases along with 110 deaths Wednesday.
“If we were to shut down for two weeks, as some people are asking, once we open back up you would then see things begin to spread again,” Abbott said. “Until there are medications to slow the spread of the coronavirus, there is only one thing that can slow the spread and that is by people adopting the use of wearing a face guard of some sort whenever they go out.”
Later in the interview with the station, Abbott said that he wants to see “children to get back in a classroom as quickly as possible,” adding: “It’s good for them and good for their parents.” He said that each school district should use their own discretion.
Under the mandate, mask order violators can be fined up to $250. There are exceptions for people who have a medical condition or disability, who are exercising outdoors, or who are participating in a religious service or voting.
Abbott also gave mayors and county authorities the ability to ban outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.
Earlier in July, he said he doesn’t want to roll back his previous orders to reopen the economy. But last week he moved to reclose bars and limit dine-in capacity in restaurants to 50 percent.
“We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face-covering in public spaces,” Abbott said.
Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.