Texas companies still requiring masks despite governor lifting mandate

A number of companies in Texas are continuing to mandate that masks be worn and customers keep a distance from each other to stop the spread of COVID-19 after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday lifted most of the state’s coronavirus restrictions. 

“Alamo Drafthouse’s mandatory mask policy remains in place, as well as our 6’ social distancing protocols and all of the other safety measures we’ve had in place across the country since last year,” Alamo Drafthouse tweeted. “We are only following the guidance of the CDC and medical experts, not politicians.”

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H-E-B, a supermarket chain, announced that it will still be requiring masks in its stores as well despite the mask mandate being lifted. 

“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," Dya Campos, H-E-B's director of public affairs, said in a statement. "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.”

Medical experts have urged states not to reopen too quickly, as the country still has a long way to go with vaccinating the population. 

Some businesses, especially those that have direct contact with the public, have been supportive of the mask mandates states have had. Others do not support the mask mandates and believe they should have a choice on whether to wear them.

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More companies and local businesses in Texas such as Macy’s, Target, Kroger, Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels, CVS and Toyota said they will keep coronavirus restrictions on their businesses such as masks and social distancing to combat the deadly virus, which has taken more than 500,000 lives in the US.

Some restaurants and gyms are welcoming Abbott’s move, saying it will help a sector that has been hit hard with capacity restrictions over the past year.

“Restaurants need the dine-in margins to really regain financial success,” said Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s good momentum for folks and good news for the industry.”

When Abbott lifted the mask mandate, he said he still expects Texans to exercise caution. 

"But it is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed," Abbott said.

--Updated at 3:51 p.m.