DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) -- "Lockdowns are wrong during a pandemic." That's the word today from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking during remarks to the Asian American Hotel Owners Association's National Convention In Dallas on Wednesday, Aug. 4.
"Another thing that has propelled business operations in Texas for you as well as others across the state is that Texas has remained open for business during the course of the pandemic," said Abbott. "One thing that we know is that safe practices are important. That said, one thing that we learned along the way is lockdowns are wrong during the course of a pandemic."
Abbott stressed the importance of safety and vaccines in the fight against COVID-19, as well, but did not say that vaccines would be mandated.
"Going forward we will encourage everyone to implement the safest strategies to make sure that we continue to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19 including the safest thing that could be done is to make sure that everyone who wants one will get a vaccine," said Abbott "The surest way to end the pandemic is for everyone that wants one to make sure they get the vaccine."
"That said, going forward, in Texas there will not be any government-imposed shutdowns or mask mandates. Everyone already knows what to do. Everyone can voluntarily implement the mandates that are safest for them, their families and their businesses," said Abbott.
Abbott's remarks come a day after President Joe Biden criticized Texas and Florida's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Some state officials are passing law or signing orders that forbid people from doing the right thing," said Biden. "The most extreme of those measures is like the one in Texas that says state universities or community colleges could be fined if it allows a teacher to ask her unvaccinated students to wear a mask."
"Just two states, Florida and Texas, account for one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country," said Biden. "I say to these governors please help. If you aren't going to help, at least get out of the way of people trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives."
CBS 11 spoke with people who attended the event.
Jay Patel who owns a hotel near Destin, Florida and manages another hotel in Mississippi, praised the Governor's remarks.
"I'm actually happy that he put that down," said Patel. "This is the only reason our business is going to go up: if the mandates stop and the closeouts and everything are done."
Patel is one of 6,300 people attending this convention.
Many people weren't wearing masks, but many others were.
"This is the first time in two years this hotel owners association has gathered in-person. So what do some of the attendees think?"
"Yes, it's a very dangerous situation, the variant. We have to be very careful," said hotel owner Nilesh Patel.
"I've been vaccinated, I've had the Moderna vaccine. I've had both doses, so I'm completely fine," said Jay Patel.
Gov. Abbott said that the Texas legislature did a lot to help businesses during the pandemic, including passing COVID-19 liability protection for Texas businesses.
"Texas businesses - including hotels that opened up and operated in good faith during the pandemic – should not have their livelihoods destroyed by frivolous lawsuits.
Abbott also spoke about the strength of the Texas economy. "We did what Washington D.C. should do," said Abbott, saying the legislature passed a balanced budget with no new Taxes leaving the state with a surplus.
Abbott stressed to the hotel group that the state budget includes full funding for state tourism promotion of nearly $70 million.
Abbott also addressed the power delivery issues that left Texas without electricity for several days in February of this year.
"We reformed ERCOT and weatherized the power grid. We increased power generation and now have more power generation capacity than before in our state's history," said Abbott. "We protected our critical power infrastructure from being shut down."
"The lights will stay on in Texas going forward," he said.
Abbott also said the Texas economy was strong.
"Things are going great in Texas. If you look back from last April - a year ago - until now, Texas has added 1.1 million new jobs," said Abbott. "Even during a COVID year, Texas ranked number one for economic development in the United States of America."
"Before the pandemic -- Texas -- if it were its own county, would have had the tenth largest economy in the entire world. That's no longer true. As we gather today, Texas has the ninth largest economy in the entire world," said Abbott.
Abbott received some chuckles and cheers comparing the Texas economy to other nations around the world and joked about being more powerful than Russian Leader Vladimir Putin.
"To give you some context for this, Texas has a larger economy than Canada, a larger economy than Australia, now a larger economy than Brazil. And Texas also has a larger economy than Russia... and that makes me more powerful than Putin."
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