Texas businesses update store mask policies after Gov. Abbott signs executive order to remove mandate

H-E-B%2C+a+Texas+grocery+chain%2C+continues+to+require+shoppers+to+wear+masks.+Many+other+businesses+in+Texas+kept+mask+requirements+despite+Gov.+Abbott%27s+new+order.

Nina Martinez/ Hilltop Views

H-E-B, a Texas grocery chain, continues to require shoppers to wear masks. Many other businesses in Texas kept mask requirements despite Gov. Abbott’s new order.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the removal of the Texas mask mandate and the approval for increased capacity of businesses to operate at 100% on March 2. The executive order lifting COVID-19 precautions takes effect immediately starting March 10 at 12:01 a.m. 

Abbott defended his decision to open up Texas by claiming Texans would do their part in preventing the spread through  suggesting mask usage instead of requiring it. 

“Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility, it’s just that now, state mandates are no longer needed,” Abbott said.

While Abbott’s removal of the mask mandate is already in effect, he has left it up to businesses to enforce a mask policy if they choose to.

Several local businesses have released statements explaining their stances and policies.

Whataburger

Whataburger will continue to encourage customers to wear a mask when visiting locations, citing commitment to keeping their employees and communities safe. 

“The health and safety of our customers and employees has always been our top priority,” Ryanne Dalton from Whataburger Corporate Communications said. “We’re aware there will no longer be a statewide mask mandate or capacity limit in Texas as of March 10, however, Whataburger will not be making any changes to our current safety protocols or social distancing practices. Face coverings will continue to be required by all Whataburger employees and we encourage our customers to wear them when visiting our restaurants.” 

P. Terry’s 

Terry’s Burger Stand will continue to require all employees and customers to wear a mask, and will maintain restaurants at 50% capacity to ensure that tables are spread at least six feet apart. Todd Coerver, CEO of P. Terry’s, cites moral responsibility in getting the pandemic under control for his decision. 

“[I] decided to change absolutely nothing. The facts haven’t changed. The situation hasn’t materially changed. Just because a political leader comes out and decides to announce something doesn’t mean the environment is any different today than it was yesterday,” said Coerver

Coerver acknowledged that a full reopening would benefit P. Terry’s financial loss of 2020, but will hold off in doing so until the summer, citing Biden’s announcement of vaccines being readily available for all Americans in May, according to an INC article. 

H-E-B

As of March 7, H-E-B has updated its mask policy, now requiring all shoppers, employees and vendors to wear a mask. 

“While statewide policy has changed, our store protocol has not. Mask use at our stores will remain. Our signs requiring mask use will remain posted at entrances and we will continue to make announcements in store. We will continue to expect shoppers to wear masks while in our stores. Additionally, we will still require all our Partners and vendors to wear masks while at work,” H-E-B said. 

The new policy marks shift from their March 2 announcement, where they had only encouraged customers to wear masks. 

Target

Target will continue to require all customers and employees to wear masks to enter all stores, no matter if they have already been vaccinated, and will provide customers with a disposable face mask if they do not have one.

Target states if customers refuse to wear a mask, they will be offered their various no-contact options that include Driveup, shopping through their online website or Shipt. 

JD Supermarket 

JD Supermarket, a grocery chain in Austin, will not require customers to wear masks to enter the premises. 

“[JD Supermarkets] will go with the state order, but for a while our staff will keep wearing masks,” a spokesperson for JD supermarkets said.  

Whole Foods

As of March 7, Whole Foods issued the following statement on their mask policy: 

“On background, Whole Foods Market continues to require everyone to wear face coverings while working and shopping in our stores,” Rebeka Mora from Corporate Communications said.

As of March 10, 8.78% of Austinites in Travis County are fully vaccinated as COVID-19 and its new variants continue to spread across Texas. Despite Abbott’s decision, the CDC continues to advise those in the U.S. to mask up to stop the spread.