Gov. Abbott strikes down statewide mask mandate, but you’ll still have to wear a mask at these places

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On the heels of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement Tuesday to take down the statewide mask and occupancy mandates, many groups and businesses are letting people know where they stand.

“It’s time to reopen Texas 100%,” Abbott said. “Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open, should be open.”

Abbott announced a new executive order effective next Wednesday that will allow any business to open at 100% capacity if they choose to. Saying that statewide mandates are “no longer necessary,” he also announced the end of the mandatory mask mandate effective March 10.

Travel

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will still be requiring all passengers to mask up, in accordance to federal rules.

“Travelers at AUS are required to wear a mask at TSA airport screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation systems. Passengers without a mask may be denied entry, boarding, or continued transport. Failure to comply with the mask requirement can result in civil penalties,” a spokesperson wrote.

Capital Metro will also be keeping its requirements for passengers who want to board its buses.

“Capital Metro will continue to maintain the federal requirement to wear a face mask on our vehicles and at our facilities, in compliance with the federal order requiring the wearing of masks. This is to protect the health and safety of our customers, staff and community, because safety is the core value of everything we do at Capital Metro,” the agency wrote in an email to KXAN News.

Grocery stores

The governor’s order allows businesses to decide whether or not to enforce masks.

“Today’s announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year,” Abbott said. “Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.”

Target says customers will still have to wear masks.

“We require guests to wear masks or face coverings in all of our stores, except for guests with underlying medical conditions and young children. We also require all store team members to wear masks at work and have provided them with reusable and disposable masks. Those who have been vaccinated for coronavirus are still required to wear a mask and follow all social distancing guidelines, in line with current CDC guidance,” Brian Harper-Tibaldo.

H-E-B says while it will still require employees and vendors to wear masks and encourages customers to do so as well, it will not be enforcing the policy for customers.

“H-E-B strongly encourages the use of masks and requires them for all Partners and vendors. We ask that all our customers please wear masks in our stores. To protect the safety of our Partners, we will not engage in confrontation,” the company said in several Tweets to customers Tuesday.

“Although there is no longer a statewide mask order, H-E-B believes it is important that masks be worn in public spaces until more Texans and our Partners have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. As an essential service provider during the pandemic, H-E-B is focused on the health and safety of our Partners and customers. H-E-B will still require all our Partners and vendors to wear masks while at work, and we urge all customers to please wear a mask when in our stores,” a spokesperson further explained to KXAN.

Randalls is taking the same approach, a spokesperson says:

  • For associates and vendors, we will continue to follow the CDC guidance and will require face coverings.
  • For customers, we will encourage face coverings, but will not mandate, and will be updating our signage accordingly.
  • We will continue our health and safety measures such as enhanced cleaning and social distancing guidance.
  • We will continue to monitor the situation and will work quickly to inform customers, associates, and vendors when/if there are changes to the health and safety policies currently in place.

Some businesses

“While we celebrate progress, it’s imperative that we remain vigilant so we do not slide backwards,” said Emily Knight, Texas Restaurant Association President, in a statement and in a press conference.

“Consumers will only go where they feel safe, and so restaurants must continue to be very thoughtful and implement the safety protocols that will enable them to maintain and build trust with their consumers and employees.”

In the live music capital of the world, some Austin venues like Mohawk say they’ll remain closed until they feel it’s safe.

The Alamo Drafthouse and Paramount Theatre are open but still requiring masks.

Healthcare

Dr. Diana Fite, Texas Medical Association President, told KXAN News she thinks central Texans will be responsible.

“As far as physicians go, we do think we should be following the CDC guidelines at this point,” Dr. Diana Fite, Texas Medical Association President, told KXAN News.

That’s what all three of central Texas’ major healthcare systems are doing: Ascension Seton, St. David’s and Baylor Scott and White say they’ll stick with their rules at all hospitals and clinics.

Maybe: City and county facilities

Travis County Judge Andy Brown says while he has loved working with the governor on turning the Circuit of Americas into a mass distribution site, he “couldn’t disagree with him more” on masking.

“It seems irresponsible to indicate to people that somehow it’s now safe to not wear masks because everyone from our local health authority, Dr. Escott, to scientists, you know, at the national level are saying that we need to keep wearing masks to stop COVID from having another surge,” Brown says.

He says you may also have to mask up before entering city and county buildings.

“I’m working with our county attorney Delia Garza and her office to determine exactly what the order does because frankly I think it’s a little bit confusing,” he says.

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