Texas moves to lift mask mandate and lift Covid rules

Texas will lift its mask mandate and allow businesses to reopen at full capacity next week, Governor Greg Abbott has announced.

"It is now time to open Texas 100%," the Republican said on Tuesday.

Texas is the largest US state to end its mask mandate. Mr Abbott has faced criticism from his party over the measure, which was imposed last July.

More than 42,000 people have died with Covid in Texas since the start of the pandemic.

Mr Abbot announced he is lifting of the restrictions in a speech at the Chamber of Commerce in the city of Lubbock on Tuesday.

"Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities," he said. "Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end."

He said that with increased vaccinations and improved treatment for Covid, the state was "in a far better position now".

"Covid has not suddenly disappeared," he added, "but state mandates are no longer needed."