As Texas casts off shackles of COVID-19, lessons of 2020 still loom large for many

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AUSTIN, Texas — True to form, Texas is going big in its effort to cast off the shackles of COVID-19.

As of today, masks are no longer required in public and businesses can fully open in America's second-most populous state.

Gov. Greg Abbott says people in Texas are being vaccinated at record rates and the time has come to let people choose their own destiny.

Public health officials say the move is premature, and many business owners continue to require masks.

President Joe Biden has described lifting statewide restrictions as "neanderthal thinking."

Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat, is urging her fellow citizens not to let their guard down.

"Let's ignore wrongheaded advice and do what is right to save lives," Jackson Lee tweeted Tuesday.

Many other states have also decided it's time to begin moving on from the pandemic.

Mississippi has lifted all its restrictions, while in Maryland, businesses will no longer face capacity limits as of Friday.

Concert halls and movie theatres in Maryland will reopen at half-capacity, although the state is keeping its mask mandate in place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2021.

The Canadian Press