Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Thursday he will roll back some of the state’s final coronavirus restrictions, lifting limits on public gatherings along with the mandate requiring that masks be worn in state buildings.
“Because of the progress we have made, I will be issuing a new executive order tomorrow. There will be no statewide restrictions on events, or Oklahomans,” Stitt said during a Thursday news conference. “I’m also removing the requirements to wear a mask in state buildings.”
“More Oklahomans are getting vaccines each day, and the CDC’s new guidelines mean wearing a mask should be a personal decision based on your circumstances,” he added.
Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky, issued a warning earlier this month that the public needs to continue coronavirus precautions if they do not wish to see a fourth resurgence in the virus, as new variants are on the rise.
President Biden has also asked that people continue to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his administration, in an attempt to keep cases low until all Americans can receive the vaccine.
Stitt reiterated that the coronavirus remains a threat in the Sooner State and advised people to continue to wear masks depending on the circumstance.
But the governor also suggested Oklahomans cannot live in fear of the virus, and he is lifting mandates he sees as restrictions on their individual liberties.
“The standard for normal cannot be zero cases,” Stitt said. “In Oklahoma, the standard for normal is freedom. The freedom to worship, the freedom to go to work and earn a paycheck, the freedom to visit your loved ones in nursing homes, the freedom to send your kids to school in person, and the freedom to protect your family however you see fit.”
“As long as I’m governor, I will protect the freedoms of Oklahomans,” he added.
Oklahoma has reported nearly 431,000 cases since the pandemic started, with their highest caseloads spiking at the end of December with 5,713 cases reported on Dec. 28.
Cases have drastically fallen, with just 694 new cases reported Thursday, according to the state’s Department of Health.