In the first week of March, Republican governors in Mississippi, Texas, Alabama and West Virginia announced significant loosening of statewide pandemic restrictions like mask mandates and indoor capacity limits.
These states joined several others in loosening statewide coronavirus restrictions in early 2021.
In 2020, some states, like Georgia and Alaska, chose never to implement statewide mask mandates. Last September, Florida became one the largest states to roll back Covid capacity restrictions when Gov. Ron DeSantis reopened bars and restaurants to full capacity.
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On Thursday, Gov. Kay Ivey extended Alabama's statewide mask mandate, in effect since July 2020, but said it would expire April 9, 2021. The Republican governor also cautioned against hasty moves toward reopening.
“We need to get past Easter," Ivey said, adding that Alabama would not follow other states and immediately end restrictions without allowing more time for "more Alabamians to get their first shot."
"Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer,” Ivey said.
In February, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the end of most indoor capacity restrictions, but extended the statewide mask mandate through March 31. The state's mask mandate will end on that date if test positivity and hospitalization rates are below certain thresholds, Hutchinson said.
The state's mask mandate, first issued in November 2020, was ended in early February by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves announced the end of Mississippi's statewide mask mandate this week.
"Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed," Reeves tweeted. "It is time!"
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the end of Montana's statewide mask mandate on Feb. 12, though several local jurisdictions have kept them in place.
Prior to rescinding the order, Gianforte criticized a Biden administration mandate to wear masks on federal land as making "as much sense as hugging a grizzly."
The state's mask mandate was first enacted in July 2020 by Gianforte's Democratic predecessor, former Gov. Steve Bullock.
The state first enacted a mask mandate in November, which was extended once before it expired in January 2021.
The Lone Star State's mask mandate came into effect in July and will end on March 10, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced at a press conference this week.
"It is now time to open Texas 100 percent," Abbott said Tuesday.
Abbott said that “too many Texans were sidelined from employment opportunities” while businesses operate at reduced capacity because of coronavirus restrictions.
Shortly after, President Joe Biden criticized Texas' move as "Neanderthal thinking."
Republican Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that bars and restaurants will be able to operate at 100 percent seating capacity as of March 6, though some restrictions on standing room congregation remain in effect, according to NBC News affiliate WVVA.
“We absolutely expect you to continue to wear your mask,” Justice said. “We are not backing off of our mask mandate at this time.”
"I can't stand these masks myself, I get that and everything, none of us can," Justice said. But he warned that seeing "one robin" fly by does not mean winter is over.
"Let's just don't get too anxious to lift everything away and then get some level of whiplash that really hurts us," Justice said.