CONNECTICUT is set to lift nearly all of its Covid business restrictions - after President Joe Biden slammed Texas and Mississippi for putting an end to their rules.
The southern New England state's governor announced new Covid-19 restrictions on Thursday - removing most capacity limits.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont made the announcement on March 4 after a "revision of requirements" were put in place.
"While it is encouraging to see the number of cases in our state gradually going down and people getting vaccinated at rates that are among the highest in the nation, we need to continue taking this virus seriously to mitigate its spread as much as possible," Lamont said.
Lamont has urged for mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing to be an ongoing practice.
He added: "Connecticut has made tremendous strides to combat this pandemic, and we don’t want to lose the progress that we’ve made."
Capacity limits will be lifted on March 19 - affecting restaurants, retail stores, libraries, gyms, museums, houses of worship, offices and personal services.
Theaters will remain at 50 percent capacity and bars that do not serve food are not yet allowed to reopen.
However, sports will allow practice and tournaments.
Social gatherings at commercial venues can also increase to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.
Ten days later, on March 29, early childhood classes can increase from 16 to 20.
On April 2, outdoor amusement parks are allowed to open, indoor stadiums can open at 10 percent capacity and event venues can open at 50 percent capacity.
Speaking in a Thursday press conference, Lamont explained: "This is not Texas. This is not Mississippi. This is Connecticut.
"We are maintaining the masks."
The president said the restriction changes were "a big mistake" and blasted governors for "Neanderthal thinking."
"I think it's a big mistake.
"I hope everybody's realized by now these masks make a difference," he added.
"We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way we're able to get vaccines in people's arms.
"The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything's fine, take off your mask, forget it," he said. "It still matters."
"We will not have everybody vaccinated until sometime in the summer."
Both Texas and Mississippi declared they will lift mandatory mask measures and give businesses the green light to open at full capacity.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on March 2 that the state will fully reopen and he will be ending the statewide mask mandate on March 10.
Abbott added: "We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent.
“Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed."
On the same day, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced in a tweet, ''we are lifting all our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules.''
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Meanwhile, the United States may be on the brink of a devastating fourth Covid wave - prompting experts including Dr Anthony Fauci to urge for mask mandates and restrictions to be kept in place.
Fauci hit back at the governors of Texas and Mississippi on Thursday over the decision to roll back on Covid restrictions, saying: "Now is not the time to pull back."
As of Thursday, at least 518,459 people have died from Covid and the total number of positive coronavirus cases reached 28,760,878.