On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced during a public conference that the state would be ending its government mask mandate, and that all businesses would be permitted to open up to 100% capacity. Abbott’s decision was immediately met with intense backlash from residents of Texas and beyond, who believe it is far too early to be relaxing anti-COVID-19 measures. Medical experts have weighed in, stating that if Texas citizens were to stop wearing masks, another surge of the disease is almost guaranteed. However, in spite of Abbott’s statement, numerous retailers across the country have decided to stand firm on mask policies whether the government enforces them or not.
Major retailers including Kroger, Target and Walgreens have all made clear that they defer only to the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control, and as such will still be requiring face coverings in their stores on both employees and customers.
“There is no change at this time to the company mask mandate policy or any current safety protocols that are in place in our stores or any work locations to protect our customers and team members. We are following current CDC and OSHA guidelines regarding safety protocols,” a spokesperson for Walgreens said in an email.
“If a customer is not wearing a mask or face covering, we will refer them to our signage and ask that they help protect themselves and those around them by listening to the experts and heeding the call to wear a face covering,” a spokesperson for CVS Health said. “For safety reasons, our employees are directed to avoid escalated confrontations with noncompliant customers and to instead help them complete their purchases as quickly as possible.”
Kroger will continue to require masks in Texas and Mississippi stores. – @TODAYshow https://t.co/H6gr3rFhte
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 4, 2021
Smaller business owners in Texas have echoed these sentiments, not wanting to put themselves or their businesses at risk. “It’s too soon for it,” thrift store volunteer Humbelina Gonzales told CNN. “If they don’t want to wear a mask, they’re not allowed to come in. That’s the way I see it.”
“What he’s done is he’s put the burden on the business now, and that’s going to create conflict at some point,” San Antonio restaurant owner Mike Nguyen said of Gov. Abbott.